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  • Cited by 15
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2016
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Book description

How did empires rule different peoples across vast expanses of space and time? And how did small numbers of imperial bureaucrats govern large numbers of subordinated peoples? Empires and Bureaucracy in World History seeks answers to these fundamental problems in imperial studies by exploring the power and limits of bureaucracy. The book is pioneering in bringing together historians of antiquity and the Middle Ages with scholars of post-medieval European empires, while a genuinely world-historical perspective is provided by chapters on China, the Incas and the Ottomans. The editors identify a paradox in how bureaucracy operated on the scale of empires and so help explain why some empires endured for centuries while, in the contemporary world, empires fail almost before they begin. By adopting a cross-chronological and world-historical approach, the book challenges the abiding association of bureaucratic rationality with 'modernity' and the so-called 'Rise of the West'.


‘Crooks and Parsons have taken an unfashionable subject and crafted a sparkling set of essays that demonstrate the importance of bureaucracy to the founding and maintaining of a diverse array of empires. Speaking across a huge temporal divide, this collection is sensitive to newer histories of colonialism, takes nothing for granted, and rethinks comparative history in important and productive ways. An impressive contribution that belongs on the shelves of historians of empire from every era and every region.'

Philippa Levine - University of Texas, Austin

‘This book studies the links between the hugely important but complicated realities of empire and bureaucracy in a way that is extremely wide-ranging, of great conceptual clarity but also full of detailed knowledge. Given the enormous scale of the project and the different perspectives of the many specialists involved in writing the individual chapters, the coherence of this fascinating work is a great tribute to the two editors.

Dominic Lieven - University of Cambridge

‘A distinguished array of the most important and innovative historians in their respective fields has been brought together here. The resulting debates and discoveries are wide-ranging, penetrating, often genuinely groundbreaking.'

Stephen Howe - University of Bristol

'In this rich collection of essays edited by Peter Crooks and Timothy H. Parsons, historians working on diverse regions and eras examine the relationship between the establishment and running of empires and bureaucracy.'

Prachi Deshpande Source: H-Asia

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Page 1 of 2

  • 1 - Empires, Bureaucracy and the Paradox of Power
    pp 3-28

Page 1 of 2


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