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China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty (History of Imperial China #3)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  70 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The Tang dynasty is often called China s golden age, a period of commercial, religious, and cultural connections from Korea and Japan to the Persian Gulf, and a time of unsurpassed literary creativity. Mark Lewis captures a dynamic era in which the empire reached its greatest geographical extent under Chinese rule, painting and ceramic arts flourished, women played a major ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Belknap Press
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Hadrian
Apr 19, 2014 Hadrian rated it really liked it
The Tang Dynasty, which began in 618 and ended in 907, is thought of as one of the great high points in Chinese history. This volume's title, 'cosmopolitan empire', alludes to the coexistence of multiple religions, ethnicities, and customs. The Tang Dynasty is famous for its architecture, poetry, literature, scientific advancements, and even a comparatively good status for women.

Like he did in the previous two volumes in the series, Lewis gives only a brief overview of political events, and the
...more
Laura
May 08, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it took me almost a year to read this book start to finish, and although I learned a great deal from it, I feel that this book held too much information and did not explain it very well. Often times it was boring and dull, which made the words swim and the mind grow weary. Although I enjoy reading about this era, I found it difficult to really grasp the information being presented to me. It was definitely cut into appropriate sections, they still seemed disjointed. Also this book primarily ...more
AskHistorians
Divided between sections on history, geography, the economy, society, and culture, this book is comprehensive without being overloaded--whether your interests are agriculture, the status of women, or the nature of the poet in society you will find information here. It also does well at torpedoing national mythology.
Jonathan
Aug 02, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
618-907 CE was the span of the Tang dynasty, and this era is considered by many Chinese as a sort of golden age, not least in the quality of its poetry and other literary accomplishments, but also in the geographic expansion of China to its greatest extent for almost a millennium. The Tang was also an era of expanding urbanization, of the growth and expansion of the Chinese empire south of the Yangtze, and of increased trade and cultural contacts between China and the outer world. In this the th ...more
Margaret Sankey
Oct 28, 2014 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Well-written assessment of the T'ang Dynasty, notable for an even-handed reconstruction of the reign of Empress Wu, demonized by later Confucian and Neo-Confucian scholars as a usurping female ruler.
Christopher
Oct 06, 2014 Christopher rated it it was ok
Mark Edward Lewis has competently written a well-researched overview of the Tang Dynasty in China. Each Chinese dynasty is interesting and worthy of further study in their own right, but I remember particularly enjoying lessons on the Tang dynasty when I was in high school. There is an extensive list of Chinese and non-Chinese sources that the author draws from as he breaks down certain elements of the times into specific chapters (ex., religion, rural society, etc.). I enjoyed the sections on u ...more
Tom
Apr 19, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, china
A good, solid historical overview of the Tang Dynasty, which at the time was the most populous and power empire on earth. Particularly impressive is Lewis's first chapter, which incorporates much recent research on environmental history. The chapter on writing relies too heavily on Stephen Owen's four volumes on Tang literary history, but in doing so, Lewis is merely reflecting the trends of English-language scholarship. Recommended for anyone interested in world history.
Julian Haigh
May 25, 2014 Julian Haigh rated it liked it
I jumped right into Chinese history and this book was a bit dry for such an endeavour. The book is excellent at detailing many different facets and essential developments through the course of history with whole chapters devoted to religion, writing, rural and urban society. One fact I found most fun: in 765 a buddhist Tibetan army ransacked Chang'an, the capital of the Tang Empire, facilitating its downfall.
Dangermousie
Apr 17, 2013 Dangermousie rated it it was amazing
I am very much in love with the series of books on various Chinese Dynasties (I've only read this and Qin/Han so far, but plan to get to the rest).

I found it entertaining, encompassing, and accessible to a non-specialist without being written 'down' to its audience (disclaimer - I was a history major in college but do not work in the field).

Very worth a read.
Ayu
Nov 23, 2012 Ayu rated it it was amazing
I didn't know anything about the Tang Dynasty, so this book served as an introduction to me. All the names frankly went over my head, but I like that I now have a sense of what life was like during the Tang Dynasty.
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Other Books in the Series

History of Imperial China (6 books)
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