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The Economic History of China
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Book description

China's extraordinary rise as an economic powerhouse in the past two decades poses a challenge to many long-held assumptions about the relationship between political institutions and economic development. Economic prosperity also was vitally important to the longevity of the Chinese Empire throughout the preindustrial era. Before the eighteenth century, China's economy shared some of the features, such as highly productive agriculture and sophisticated markets, found in the most advanced regions of Europe. But in many respects, from the central importance of irrigated rice farming to family structure, property rights, the status of merchants, the monetary system, and the imperial state's fiscal and economic policies, China's preindustrial economy diverged from the Western path of development. In this comprehensive but accessible study, Richard von Glahn examines the institutional foundations, continuities and discontinuities in China's economic development over three millennia, from the Bronze Age to the early twentieth century.


‘Richard von Glahn, one of the leading historians of China’s middle period, has written the first truly comprehensive economic history of China in English. Giving due consideration to the role of geography, natural endowment, and a changing ideological, social and political landscape, von Glahn’s masterful synthesis is destined to become the go-to reference on the forces that shaped China’s political economy from the Bronze Age to the end of the last dynasty.’

Madeleine Zelin - Columbia University, New York

‘This book promises to be the most timely and ambitious scholarly attempt to construct a new historical narrative of the Chinese past that provides a reliable foundation to comprehend China today. What makes Professor von Glahn’s new story cogent and path-breaking is the solid scholarship in theory and historiography that is always a hallmark of his works.’

Billy Kee-long So - Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

‘In one volume, Richard von Glahn offers a coherent and erudite account of three millennia of Chinese economic history. Synthesizing a huge variety of source materials, the book contains both an impressive update and thought-provoking insights on the major debates and paradigms in Chinese economic history. A remarkable achievement and a must-read for scholars and students of the Chinese economy and economic history in general.’

Debin Ma - London School of Economics and Political Science

'This is the kind of book that will almost certainly enjoy a long shelf life, like some of the most recognizable titles on China’s long-term history … I strongly recommend this book to students of Chinese history, East Asian history and world/global history.'

Kent G. Deng Source: EH.Net

'This is the first book in English to offer a comprehensive account of economic history in China. It takes a step further towards freeing the field from the shackles of Western economic perspective by producing a refreshingly unapologetic narrative … This book avoids economic jargon and keeps the use of Chinese terms to a necessary minimum, thus also making it a suitable resource for historians of other disciplines and world regions … readers are left to make their own conclusions and will undoubtedly find this book a rich platform for future discussion and debate.'

Christopher Rea Source: Ming Studies

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