Rachel Strohm

48 days ago

“My overall thought is that there’s not high value in reading Chinese history unless one is eager to learn about governance and political economy. If so, the history there is very rich indeed. Have you ever wondered what would happen if the state imposed military service in perpetuity, so that every generation of descendants has to serve? Well, let’s look at how well that worked out in the Ming. Imperial history is a rich mine for information on how a state imposes order, how it spreads ideology, and how it renews itself after a crisis.”

Imperial history and classical aesthetics


I’ve mostly been resisting reading Chinese imperial history, for two reasons. The smaller reason first: a lot of it is made up. Conquering dynasties tended to burn the records and rewrite the history of the previous dynasty.