Timothy BrookThe Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

Harvard University Press, 2010

by Carla Nappi on February 24, 2012

Timothy Brook

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Tim Brook's The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 2010) rewards the reader on many levels. Though it provides an excellent introduction to Yuan and Ming history for both students and advanced scholars, it's not merely a dry textbook: The Troubled Empire also succeeds in a provocative  re-conceptualization of many central concepts in Chinese history. Beginning with soaring dragons and ending with rats on a bookshelf, Brook offers us what is simultaneously an ecological history of early modern China, a comparative account of the Yuan and Ming in global history, and an exemplary case study of transdisciplinary history at its most engaging. I learned a great deal reading it, and we had a great time talking about it.

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