Academic journal article Military Review

Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900

Academic journal article Military Review

Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900

Article excerpt

MEDIEVAL CHINESE WARFARE, 300-900, David A. Graff, Routledge, New York, 2002, 288 pages, $27.95.

David Graft's Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900, contains little on battles, more on the military, and most on the "interrelationship of warfare, state, and society during the six centuries between the fall of the Western Jin Dynasty and the fall of the Tang Dynasty." To show how war shaped China, Graff exploits classical Chinese sources and the best Sinological scholars to connect military affairs with political and social developments. Instead of lamenting the shortcomings of his sources, such as a lack of attention to battles, he exploits Chinese historians' preoccupation with the way states make war.

Concentrating on the strengths of the sources he uses, Graff presents a synthetic picture of Chinese military history during the medieval period. Because Western readers know little about this period, Graff introduces the subject with a brief sketch of Chinese military thought and action before 300. By explaining the way Japanese and Western scholars periodize Chinese history using tripartite classical, medieval, and modern frameworks, he places his history in a framework that makes it more accessible to Western readers.

Throughout the medieval period, North China was regularly invaded and occupied by Turk and Uighurs from Central Asia. These recurrent invasions were China's primary international relations problem until the mid-18th century, when the Qing Dynasty finally ended it by pacifying Tibet and Central Asia. Although these invaders regularly established ruling dynasties in North China and the Tang-conquered large territories, the only foreign war a Chinese dynasty fought during this period took place in Korea and ended in failure. …

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