Qin and Han: The social and political structures

Confucius died age 72 when the ideal lifespan was 70 years and those who died in their fifties are said to have died early. {p 174 paperback}. Such are the fascinating facts on longevity, even in the ancient 5th century BC, that one can learn from this book.

Between the Warring States period and the Three Kingdoms era is the Qin and Han dynasties. The Han ended when its last emperor abdicated to Cao Cao’s son, Cao Pi. Earlier, Cao Cao’s dream of becoming the next emperor ended in a famous defeat much celebrated in the martial epic The Three Kingdoms. Name the battle. {p 29}.

This book, the first of a six-volume Harvard University History of Imperial China explores the social and political structures of these two dynasties. Topics covered are rural society, kinship, law, literature, religion, etc. The chapters are presented with an abundance of source materials and anecdotes. Lewis’ command of sources is impressive.

This book, sadly, lacks a chapter on the emperors themselves. One does not know the name of the First Emperor of China, for example. It would have been useful if we have a chronological description and names of all the emperors of these two dynasties. After all, what is A History of Imperial China without a chapter on the emperors themselves!

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