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The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China (Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World)

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China's Han Dynasty created a prosperous empire from 206 BCE to CE 221, promoting a less harsh society than that of their Quin predecessors and developing technological advancements from the water mill to stoneware and paper. From elements of social change in Han times to kingdom problems and issues, its role in world society and politics, and its importance in establishing centralized control in Asia, The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China is essential reading for any college-level scholar who would understand the importance of this developmental period.

The establishment of the Han Empire, solidifying the Qin unification of the warring states, is of paramount importance in the history of China, and arguably, in world history. This excellent introduction to that dynastic period devotes separate chapters to the political, institutional, technological, and social ramifications of the era....The writing is engaging and not pedantic. This volume, very much focused on the Western or Former Han (the Xin and later Han are dealt with in two sentences only), is a promising eastward expansion of this series on the ancient world.

The Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. to C.E. 221) ruled a large prosperous Chinese empire that was roughly contemporary with the Roman Empire and comparable in size. The Han was founded by Liu Bang who ruled as Emperor Gaozu. The Han emperors turned away from the harsh rule of their Qin predecessors and promoted Confucianism and other schools of thought while retaining some of the useful autocratic features of Legalism. Under Wudi (140-87 B.C.E.) the empire expanded to include parts of Central Asia, Korea and Vietnam. Under the Han dynasty the Chinese developed steel, the water mill, high quality stoneware (china), and paper. Designed as an introduction to the founding and consolidation of the Han Empire, this work offers information on the founding of the Han Empire; conflict between town and countryside and the empire and barbarians; technological innovations like steel and papermaking; social changes and the lives of women and children; and a comparative look at Imperial China in world history. Excerpts from Confucius on government, recently found Qin laws written on bamboo strips, and contemporary historical accounts lend depth and immediacy to the work. Brief biographies of key rulers, rebels, and philosophers give readers a look at events through the eyes of participants. An annotated bibliography, index, chronology, glossary, and 26 illustrations and maps round out the book.

About the Author

GRANT HARDY is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. ANNE BEHNKE KINNEY is Professor of Chinese, and Director of the East Asia Center at the University of Virginia. As a graduate student she spent two years in the department of History and Archaeology at Peking University. She is the author of Representations of Childhood and Youth in Early China (2003), and has published numerous articles and scholarly publications.
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