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The Pattern of the Chinese Past by Mark…
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The Pattern of the Chinese Past

by Mark Elvin

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I probably found this book in my searches on Google Books due to it's first sentence: "The question of the size of political units seems never to attract among historians and sociologists the attention which it deserves". However, this question does unfortunately not receive much attention in this book either, so my expectations were not quite met. The book does provide a few explanations for the exceptional durability of the large Chinese empire, but it's primarily just an economic history of China. The book is a pleasure to read and many of its points are nicely illustrated with quotations from historical Chinese sources. But as far as comparisons between China and Europe are concerned, I would recommend Pomeranz' The Great Divergence as a more recent work which I think covers similar ground from a slightly broader perspective.
  thcson | Jun 24, 2014 |
If Elvin's approach to the salients of China's historical experience is hopscotch, it is not haphazard. While the text itself is never difficult, you will feel lost if you don't already have a grasp of China's timeline. But Elvin's shrewd epitomes of the various dynasties make this book an invaluable companion to any more conventional history.
  ccjolliffe | May 27, 2007 |
"without doubt the most lucid and stimulating introduction to the problems of the economic and social history of traditional China at present available"
  languagehat | Sep 14, 2005 |
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