The Everlasting Empire: The Political Culture of Ancient China and Its Imperial Legacy

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $20.20
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 51%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $20.20   
  • New (6) from $20.20   
  • Used (3) from $21.00   


Established in 221 BCE, the Chinese empire lasted for 2,132 years before being replaced by the Republic of China in 1912. During its two millennia, the empire endured internal wars, foreign incursions, alien occupations, and devastating rebellions—yet fundamental institutional, sociopolitical, and cultural features of the empire remained intact. The Everlasting Empire traces the roots of the Chinese empire's exceptional longevity and unparalleled political durability, and shows how lessons from the imperial past are relevant for China today.

Yuri Pines demonstrates that the empire survived and adjusted to a variety of domestic and external challenges through a peculiar combination of rigid ideological premises and their flexible implementation. The empire's major political actors and neighbors shared its fundamental ideological principles, such as unity under a single monarch—hence, even the empire's strongest domestic and foreign foes adopted the system of imperial rule. Yet details of this rule were constantly negotiated and adjusted. Pines shows how deep tensions between political actors including the emperor, the literati, local elites, and rebellious commoners actually enabled the empire's basic institutional framework to remain critically vital and adaptable to ever-changing sociopolitical circumstances. As contemporary China moves toward a new period of prosperity and power in the twenty-first century, Pines argues that the legacy of the empire may become an increasingly important force in shaping the nation's future trajectory.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

A unique perspective, well presented in accessible language and backed up with extensive notes and bibliography, the work represents high-quality scholarship from broad-based social science at its best. It belongs in all college and university libraries.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012

"A unique perspective, well presented in accessible language and backed up with extensive notes and bibliography, the work represents high-quality scholarship from broad-based social science at its best. It belongs in all college and university libraries."Choice

"Pines is successful in pointing out many critical characteristics of Chinese imperial system and political culture, not only the ideological but also the institutional and the practical, which are indeed highly relevant to the system's sustainability."—Hsiao-wen Cheng, Insight Turkey

"[T]here is enough in this book to make it a valuable contribution to the study of empire and its legacies."—Brian Moloughney, Asian Studies Review

"Moving between ideology and the real world, the author has gone far to deepen our understanding of the practical impact of traditional Chinese political culture on the empire. In so doing, he debunks various myths and stereotypes prevalent in both China and the West. This book is a good starting point for those who wish to provide a more comprehensive answer. It should be of interest to both students and scholars."—Jingbin Wang, H-Net Reviews

"Professor Pines writes with the benefit of wide and deep reading that enables him to survey the intellectual, political, and social background against which kingdoms and then empires were founded, maintained, declined, and closed from the time of the Warring States until the modern age."—Michael Loewe, Journal of Chinese Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691134956
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/27/2012
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Yuri Pines holds the Michael W. Lipson Chair in Chinese Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a visiting professor at Nankai University in Tianjin, China. He is the author of Foundations of Confucian Thought and Envisioning Eternal Empire.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi i
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: The Ideal of "Great Unity" 11
Chapter 2: The Monarch 44
Chapter 3: The Literati 76
Chapter 4: Local Elite 104
Chapter 5: The People 134
Chapter 6: Imperial Political Culture in the Modern Age 162
Notes 185
Bibliography 209
Index 233

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)