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A Political Life in Ming China: A Grand Secretary and His Times (Hardback)
  • A Political Life in Ming China: A Grand Secretary and His Times (Hardback)
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A Political Life in Ming China: A Grand Secretary and His Times (Hardback)

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£65.00
Hardback 220 Pages / Published: 25/09/2013
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This fascinating history uncovers the hidden political world of Ming China, exploring how the most powerful man in mid-sixteenth-century China steered the empire through the worst crises it had ever faced. Distinguished scholar John W. Dardess traces how Chief Grand Secretary Xu Jie rose to power and successfully shepherded the Ming empire through the destructive mid-sixteenth-century raids along its continental and maritime frontiers. He also shows how Xu Jie used the new Confucian thinking of the Wang Yangming school to build a political following, suppress bureaucratic corruption, and liberalize bureaucratic procedures. Drawing on years of research, Dardess uses Xu's hundreds of letters to officials and records of talks with the emperors he served to tell this long-neglected story in rich and engrossing detail.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442223776
Number of pages: 220
Weight: 467 g
Dimensions: 235 x 161 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Jon Dardess, a leading scholar and retired septuagenarian in the field of sinology, manages to vividly sketch the inner workings of the Ming imperial bureaucracy. . . .Dardess' biography does successfully present Xu Jie as a microcosm of the Ming Empire, and here the scholarly work thoroughly delivers on the promises of new biography and its interest in the interplay between institutional structure and individual agency. . . .It should be considered required reading for those wanting to come close to grasping how the oft-vaunted bureaucracies of Chinese empires functioned in real life. . . .[T]his is a fine monograph that is both highly readable and able to immerse a 21st century reader in a top-level burcreaut's inner world situated in the culturally very different political constellation of sixteenth-century China. * Shilin: Leiden Univeristy Journal of Young Sinology *
A strong original contribution to the field of Ming history, and indeed of imperial Chinese history more broadly. It is a treasure trove of research. John Dardess's use of Xu Jie's letters is phenomenal, and his familiarity with Chinese scholarship, both classical and contemporary, is masterful. He not only illuminates the basic concerns of the Ming state, but also shows in compelling detail how officials managed affairs and how personal ambition and policy differences combined to animate imperial political life. His book will be very welcome for scholars and students of the Ming and of imperial Chinese history overall. -- Kenneth J. Hammond, New Mexico State University
John Dardess has once again shown that he is a master of Ming history. Now he has resurrected the genre of political biography in a study of Grand Secretary Xu Jie and, through the contextualization of his letters, given us a string of insights into the workings of sixteenth-century politics. -- Peter Bol, Harvard University

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