The Wobbling Pivot, China since 1800: An Interpretive History / Edition 1

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"Pamela Crossley, a leading historian of the Qing Empire, has hit upon a genuinely novel and stylish way of telling the story of China's modern transformations. She strikes a good balance between offering up big arguments and supporting them with revealing details, and she excels at limning connections between collective actions and state responses to unrest two centuries ago and patterns of protest and repression in the current era of Internet petitions and text message mobilization. The result is truly impressive, a high-level work of synthesis that is informed by deep knowledge of the past yet speaks with immediacy to the concerns of the present."

"Pamela Crossley's book gives readers a new and original perspective on modern Chinese history by moving its focus away from the politics of the centre to give us a greater understanding of how China's regions and minorities have shaped this multi-voiced society in its transition from empire to nation-state."

This comprehensive but concise narrative of China since the eighteenth century builds its story around the delicate relationship between central government and local communities.

With a nod to Ezra Pound's translation of the Chinese classic Zhongyong - The Unwobbling Pivot, Pamela Kyle Crossley argues that China's modern history has not wholly adhered to the ideal of the "unwobbling pivot", with China as a harmonious society based on principles of stability. Instead, she argues that developments can be explained through China's suprising swings between centralization and decentralization, between local initiative and central authoritarianism. The author's approach is broad enough to provide a full introduction to modern Chinese history. Students new to the subject will be supported with timelines, maps, illustrations, and extensive notes to further readings, while those with a background in Chinese history will find an underlying theme in the narrative addressing long-standing interpretive issues.

As a personal perspective from a leading authority in the field, The Wobbling Pivot provides a stimulating and original interpretation of the course of modern Chinese history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Finding a fresh angle to a familiar story is a challenge, one that this book has dealt with creatively and convincingly.” (English Historical Review, 1 June 2014

"As a textbook, The Wobbling Pivot is accessible, complete and readable, and as a synthesis of twentieth century Chinese history, it is both original and provocative, and a valuable introduction to the perennial issues that China poses in the undergraduate classroom.” (The China Quarterly, 1 September 2012)

"[A] lively survey ... .It sheds considerable light on contemporary Chinese dilemmas." (Shanghaiist, December 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405160797
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Series: Wiley Desktop Editions Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela Kyle Crossley is Professor of Inner Asian, East Asian Intellectual and Chinese History at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Her publications include The Manchus (Blackwell, 1997); A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Ideology (1999); and What is Global History? (2008). She is a past Guggenheim Fellow and was awarded the Levenson Prize from the Association for Asian Studies in 2001. 

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

List of Maps viii

Foreword and Acknowledgments ix

Prelude xi

Timeline xv

1 The Wobbling Pivot 1

2 Sources of Order Under the Qing Empire 21

3 Sources of Disorder Under the Qing Empire 44

4 Essay: Strategic Borders 66

5 Qing and the World 70

6 Essay: Rebel Heroines 98

7 Visionaries 100

8 Essay: Hunan Takes the Lead 126

9 Essay: Water 129

10 Beiyang Ascendancy 133

11 Cultural Revolution 155

12 Essay: Manchus as Minorities 177

13 War 180

14 The Ubiquitous Center 207

15 Essay: Minerals 240

16 Essay: Health Risks 243

17 Gravity 246

Bibliography 274

Index 295

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