Chinese History

Shin-Kickers From History: The Trung Sisters of Vietnam

August 1, 2014

In 39 CE, two young women led Vietnam in its first rebellion against the Chinese empire, which had then ruled the country for 150 years. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi were born in a small town in north Vietnam around 14 CE, the daughters of a Vietnamese lord who served as a prefect under the […]

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From The Ruins of Empire–Revisited

August 27, 2013

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ve probably figured out that I like books that look at familiar history from another point of view. (For example, here, and here, and here.)  Pankaj Mishra’s From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia,  is an excellent example.* Misra begins with the statement that […]

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From The Ruins of Empire

October 11, 2012

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ve probably figured out that I like books that look at familiar history from another point of view. (For example, here, and here, and here.) It should be no surprise that Pankaj Mishra’s latest book caught my eye. In From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who […]

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Industrial Espionage

September 4, 2012

The Chinese produced luxury silk fabrics for several thousand years before they began trading with the west. Scraps of dyed silk gauze found in a neolithic site in Zhejiang Province date from 3600 BCE. Silk fabrics woven in complex patterns were produced in the same region by 2600 BCE. By the time of the Zhou […]

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From Confucius to Air Traffic Control

August 28, 2012

In 130 BCE, the Chinese emperor Han Wudi came up with a new idea for how to choose government bureaucrats. He established a civil service of Confucian scholars, known in English as mandarins, who earned their positions by passing a standardized examination. The system still favored those from privileged families who could afford to give […]

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Déjà Vu All Over Again: Drug Wars

January 17, 2012

A growing number of addicts.  A ruthless business cartel.  A country determined to close its borders to imported drugs.  Violence and corruption in major cities.  Sound familiar? Welcome to the Opium War of 1839. In the late eighteenth century, opium was a key element in the British East India Company’s business plan.  The company grew […]

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