Envisioning Eternal Empire: Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era, by Yuri Pines, is an ambitious work that looks into the reasons for the exceptional durability of the Chinese empire, which lasted for more than two millennia (221 BCE–1911 CE). Pines identifies the roots of the empire’s longevity in the activities of thinkers of the Warring States period (453–221 BCE), who, in their search for solutions to an ongoing political crisis, developed ideals, values, and perceptions that would become essential for the future imperial polity. In marked distinction to similar empires worldwide, the Chinese empire was envisioned and to a certain extent “preplanned” long before it came into being. As a result, it was not only a military and administrative construct, but also an intellectual one. Pines makes the argument that it was precisely its ideological appeal that allowed the survival and regeneration of the empire after repeated periods of turmoil.
December 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3275-9 / $55.00 (CLOTH)