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Great State


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The last eight centuries of China's relationship with the world told through the eyes of traders, invaders, civil servants, visionaries, and traitors

About the Author

Timothy Brook was Shaw Professor of Chinese at Oxford when he first saw the Selden Map, and is now professor of history at the University of British Columbia. The author of eight books on Chinese history, including Vermeer's Hat and Mr Selden's Map of China, which are both published by Profile.


Brook's vigorous account [...] Great State offers some compelling lessons for today, and for all our futures. * New Statesman *
Praise for Vermeer's Hat : Spell-binding ... as a guide to the world behind the pictures Vermeer's Hat is mind-expanding. * Sunday Times *
A brilliant attempt to make us understand the reach and breadth of the first global age * Guardian *
Brook takes you into the paintings in a way that can be spookily intimate * Evening Standard *
An erudite, surprising book that finds traces of swashbuckling where you'd least expect * Daily Telegraph *
Truly mesmerising. In this accessible but authoritative study, he... shows better than anyone I've read so far, the truly subversive power of detail * Independent *
Praise for Mr Selden's Map of China: The great charm of this book lies not only in its illustrative, erudite detail but in the serendipity that regularly seizes Brook and adds spice to a spellbinding story. * the Times *
The quest is fascinating and picaresque, a sort of cartographical Tristram Shandy with a sure-handed narrator steering us from Ming dynasty China to pre-Civil War Oxford to the Spice Islands of South-East Asia. * Sunday Telegraph *
Excellent ... The power of this book lies partly in the fact that Brook does not overstate his case. While he does not seek to claim that China's current actions are prefigured by the past, an attentive reader cannot fail to notice extraordinary parallels -- James Kynge * Financial Times *
Timothy Brook's Great State puts forward an elegant and compelling argument for why we should look at the cosmopolitan part of the Chinese mind-set as well. -- Rana Mitter * Literary Review *
What a pleasure to read a significant, original book that covers millennia of Chinese history in an informal, often chatty, but always learned style. -- Jonathan Mirsky * Times Higher Education *
Scattered across the maps and paintings that Brook invokes, his thirteen encounters take in pirates, merchants, soldiers, traders, explorers, emperors and spiritual leaders - characters in China's complex trade, military, spiritual and political relationships down the centuries. Brook unravels the threads of these relationships across a canvas of war, friendship, savage struggles for power, lethal epidemic disease, triumph and calamity. It is a dizzying and exhilarating journey. -- Isabel Hilton * New Statesman *

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