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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2023
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Book description

In this highly readable and engaging work, Linda Walton presents a dynamic survey of China's history from the tenth through the mid-fourteenth centuries from the founding of the Song dynasty through the Mongol conquest when Song China became part of the Mongol Empire and Marco Polo made his famous journey to the court of the Great Khan. Adopting a thematic approach, she highlights the political, social, economic, intellectual, and cultural changes and continuities of the period often conceptualized as 'Middle Imperial China'. Particular emphasis is given to themes that inform scholarship on world history: religion, the state, the dynamics of empire, the transmission of knowledge, the formation of political elites, gender, and the family. Consistent coverage of peoples beyond the borders – Khitan, Tangut, Jurchen, and Mongol, among others – provides a broader East Asian context and introduces a more nuanced, integrated representation of China's past.


‘Middle Imperial China, 900-1350 is an erudite and accessible addition to the historical literature on Middle Period China. Professor Walton presents us with a multipolar world in which the Song dynasty was challenged by its powerful neighbors to the north and west and finally succumbed to the Mongols, whose Yuan dynasty also receives generous treatment at the end. The book's topical chapters on developments in the economy, society, cities, learning, thought, religion, the arts, women, and the built environment represent an impressive synthesis of the scholarship on these varied topics. As an excellent introduction into the history of this important period, this will be welcomed by specialists and non-specialists alike.'

John W. Chaffee - Binghamton University

‘The perfect book to anchor a semester-long course, whether undergraduate or graduate, on the Song dynasty, the world's most advanced society between 1000 and 1250. Impressive coverage of a wide range of topics with plentiful footnotes to both the enduring classics and the latest work in English-language scholarship on the Song.'

Valerie Hansen - Yale University

‘Pedagogically well-conceived for classroom use, this authoritative text surveys and synthesizes the past century of scholarship on the politics, economies, religions, and cultures of all the Sinitic and non-Sinitic societies of continental East Asia that predated the emergence of modern China – an essential book for the serious student of China's history.'

Charles Hartman - The University of Albany

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