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This book is part of a new wave of revisionist scholarship made possible by recent, important archaeological findings in China, Mongolia, and Central Asia that can now be compared against the historical record.


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It is the first study investigating the antag- onism between early China and its neighbors that combines both Chinese historical texts and archaeological data. Chinese cultural definitions are explained here as the expression of political goals for example, the need to cast enemies in a negative light and the result of historical processes.

Readers will come away with an entirely new, more nuanced picture of the world of ancient China and of its enemies.

Recensie(s)

Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. The Chinese frontier in Inner Asia was therefore ever changing.

The Chinese assumption of their own cultural superiority, however, cannot be used as an absolute guide to the manner in which actual foreign relations were conducted with the nomads. Ultimately, Chinese attitudes toward the peoples of Inner Asia was dictated by a strong sense of survival: the Chou states, for instance, adopted an expansionist strategy and occupied territories in the north in order to keep Inner Asia in check.

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The erection of walls, therefore, was a defensive measure. Rather than dismissing them as supporting actors in the Chinese historical narrative, Di Cosmo implies that they are just as influential as the Chinese themselves. The Chinese empire was shaped as much as by the peoples it interacted with as it was by its own internal affairs. Those who draw the bow: the rise of the Hsiung-nu Nomadic Empire and the political unification of the Nomads; 6.

Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History

From peace to war: China's shift from appeasement to military engagement; Part IV: 7. In search of grass and water: ethnography and history of the North in the Historian's Records; 8. Taming the North: the rationalization of the nomads in Ssu-ma Ch'ien's historical thought; Conclusion.


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Nicola Di Cosmo — Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

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