History of Imperial China
This six-volume series, overseen by General Editor Timothy Brook, traces the history of Imperial China from the beginnings of unification under the Qin emperor in the third century BCE to the end of the Qing dynasty in the early twentieth century. Each book—written in an accessible, straightforward style by a single author—covers a broad range of topics at a concise length and is grounded in the latest scholarship. Maps and illustrations enhance the reading experience. An essential series for everyone interested in Chinese history and culture.
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.
The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han
In 221 BC the First Emperor of Qin unified what would become the heart of a Chinese empire whose major features would endure for two millennia. In the first of a six-volume series on the history of imperial China, Lewis highlights the key challenges facing court officials and scholars who set about governing an empire of such scale and diversity.
China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties
After the collapse of the Han dynasty in the third century CE, China divided along a north–south line. This book traces the changes that both underlay and resulted from this split in a period that saw the geographic redefinition of China, more engagement with the outside world, significant changes to family life, developments in the literary and social arenas, and the introduction of new religions.
China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty
The Tang dynasty is often called China’s “golden age.” 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 role both as rulers and in the economy, and China produced its finest lyric poets in Wang Wei, Li Bo, and Du Fu.
The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China
Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. This book is an essential introduction to this transformative era.
The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties
The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China in the four centuries after the Mongol takeover of the 1270s: the growth of autocracy, social complexity, and commercialization, and China’s incorporation into the larger South China Sea economy.
China's Last Empire: The Great Qing
In a brisk revisionist history, William T. Rowe challenges the standard narrative of Qing China as a decadent, inward-looking state that failed to keep pace with the modern West. This original, thought-provoking history of China’s last empire is a must-read for understanding the challenges facing China today.