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Timothy Brook has written a splendid book which deals with two dimensions of Ming history that are still quite insufficiently studied in the West, namely, the social history of 'Buddhism' in the late imperial period (specifically the late Ming), and the study of social elites (the gentry). He makes important contributions to both fields, showing the vitality of Buddhist monastic institutions and the appeal of Buddhist religious culture among the highest levels of the local elite...The book presents a clearly structured argument, which is an enjoyment to read...Timothy Brook's important contribution to the social history of the late Ming period and of Buddhist life in particular can be read in several ways. It can serve as an excellent introduction to the social and religious history of the late Ming period for students at all levels, but also presents the established historian with a sound piece of investigative research. I, for one, look forward to taking up the arguments formulated here as a starting point for my own future research.
— Barend J. ter Haar