This is a history of China for the 900-year time span of the late imperial period. A senior scholar of this epoch, F. W. Mote highlights the personal characteristics of the rulers and dynasties and probes the cultural theme of Chinese adaptations to recurrent alien rule. No other work provides a similar synthesis: generational events, personalities, and the spirit of the age combine to yield a comprehensive history of the civilization, not isolated but shaped by its relation to outsiders.
This vast panorama of the civilization of the largest society in human history reveals much about Chinese high and low culture, and the influential role of Confucian philosophical and social ideals. Throughout the Liao Empire, the world of the Song, the Mongol rule, and the early Qing through the Kangxi and Qianlong reigns, culture, ideas, and personalities are richly woven into the fabric of the political order and institutions. This is a monumental work that will stand among the classic accounts of the nature and vibrancy of Chinese civilization before the modern period.