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Ancient Chinese Warfare (review)

Ancient Chinese Warfare (review) Features 303 apreliminaryoutlineofpatterns."2ThesamemightbesaidofhisPictures for Use and PleasureinregardtohighQingvernacularpainting.Foranyonewhomight shareJamesCahill'sinterestinbetterunderstandingChinesevernacularpaintings andthesocio-historicalcontextsinwhichtheywerebothproducedandused, thereismuchtoappreciateinthisbook,whichwillundoubtedlyserveasastarting pointforallfuturestudiesofthesubject. MichaelG.Chang Michael G. Chang, author of ACourtonHorseback:ImperialTouringandthe ConstructionofQingRule,1680­1785 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), is an associate professor of Chinese history at George Mason University. NOTES 1. JamesCahill,The Painter's Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China (NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,1994). 2. SusanBush,reviewofThe Painter's Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional ChinainChina Review International1,no.1(Spring1994):272. RalphSawyer.Ancient Chinese Warfare.NewYork:BasicBooks,2011. 576pp.Paperback$39.95,isbn978-0-465-02145-1. RalphSawyerhasdoneagreatservicetothefieldofChinesemilitaryhistoryby writingAncient Chinese Warfare.Itisanextremelyusefulsourceforinformation onthemeansandmethodsofwarfare,thoughnottheactualbattles,inChina fromtheearliestavailablearchaeologicalrecorduntilroughlytheendoftheShang dynasty.Sawyer'sbookincludesadiscussionofthelegendaryprehistoricperiod. Justasimportant,itisthefirstoftwovolumes,withasecondvolumesoonto followthatwillcovertheZhoudynasty.Takentogether,assumingthesecond volumeisofcomparablequalitytotheoneunderreview,thesebookswillformthe pointofdepartureforallsubsequentstudiesinEnglishonthemilitaryhistoryof preimperialChina.Sawyerclaimsthatthesevolumesaretheresultofthree decadesormoreofresearch;fromthatperspective,thesevolumeswouldappearto beamagnumopusforhislate-in-lifecareerasatranslatorofancientChinesemilitarytexts. Ancient Chinese Warfareisitselfadenseread.Sawyerprovidesanimpressive weightofdetail,makingthecontentsofdozensofarchaeologicalreportsconvenientlyavailableinEnglishforfastreference.Forthose,likemyself,whodonot specializeinearlyChina,thisisatremendousboon.Ratherthanattempttosift © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 304 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 throughdecadesofChinesejournalsinordertofindrelevantarticlesonmattersof fortificationsorweapons,hehasalreadygonethroughthisprocess,presentingus withtheaccumulateddataofthoseyearsofreading.Itisnowasimplematterto refertoAncient Chinese Warfareandfindtherelevantcitations.Thegreatstrength ofthisbookisthatitfunctionslikeathoroughstate-of-the-fieldarticle. Itisalsoadifficultbooktoreview,notleastbecauseSawyerhastakenan unnecessarilydefensivestanceinhisintroduction,statingthat"Toensurethat Ancient Chinese Warfare,whichisintendedforthebroadestpossibleaudienceof interestedreadersratherthanjustSinologists,wouldnotonlybeaccessiblebut alsopublishedatareasonablepriceratherthananexorbitantoneappropriatetoa researchtome,certaindecisionsweremadethatwillnodoubtbebemoanedby reviewers"(p.xi).Hethengoesontoexplainwhythevolumecontainsnomaps, whythereareveryfewillustrationsoftheweapons,andwhythereisnoromanizationfortheChineseandJapaneseworksinthebibliography.Asareviewerand sinologist,itwouldseem,then,asifIamdoomedunfairlytobemoananydecisionsmadetomakethetextmoreaccessibleoraffordable.Whatmakeshis d efensivenessunnecessaryisthatwithrespectbothtoweaponillustrationsand romanizationhisdecisionsmakegoodsense.Itakemoreissuewithhislackof mapsbecausehisextensivediscussionofarchaeologicalmaterialsnecessarily mentionsdozensofsites.EvensomeonefamiliarwithChinesegeographybutwho isnotanexpertonthismaterialwouldhavetolocateamaptogetasenseofthe relationshipofthesesitestoeachother.Whilenoonelikestobecriticized,this bookisfartoousefulforSawyertobeapprehensiveabouttheordinaryprocessof review. ThemainfocusofthebookisonthephysicalcomponentsofearlyChinese warfare.Duetothepaucityofsources,Sawyerhasreasonablydecidednottospend muchtimeonbattlesandcampaigns.Anyattempttoreconstructtactics,letalone strategy,isimpossible.Ofcourse,withoutbattles,tactics,orstrategy,theaccountis dry.Heisforcedregularlytofallbackonmuchlatermilitarytextstoprovide explanationsforhowthephysicalremainsofwar--walls,weapons,andarmor--fit together.Thisisnotaverysatisfactorysolutiongiventhatthetextsinquestionnot onlybiasourinterpretationinthefirstplace,butalsoweresometimeswritten morethanathousandyearsaftertheartifactsinquestionwerecreated.Allofthe explanationsofearlywarfarebaseduponlatertextsareahistoricalandunreliable. Archaeologyisnothistory,andtheattempttousearchaeologicalevidencefor anythingotherthanarchaeologicalexplanationsisnotveryconvincing.Iwould havepreferredthatthisvolumemademoreuseofarchaeologicalmethodologyon thearchaeologicalmaterial,ratherthanattemptingtoimposehistoricalmethods onthatevidence. Ifanythingislackinginthisbook,itisanoverallsenseofhowthematerialfits together.Sawyerdoesnotseemtohaveaspecificvisionofhowwartookplace, howwarfarechangedovertime,howitfitintosociety,orevenwhyittookplace. Features 305 Tohiscredit,ratherthanmanufactureathesisforthebookthatdidnotmatchhis evidence,hechoseinsteadsimplytopresenttheinformationhehad.Mostofthe interpretationhedoesofferisfromotherscholars.Hedoesnotofferhisown interpretationbeyondtemperingthepositionsofothers,orengaginginsome limitedspeculation.Itissimilartosomeofthebooksoftranslationhehaspreviouslypublishedinwhichheexpectsthetranslatedmaterialtospeakforitself.This materialisimportant,butitdoesnotspeakforitself.Moreover,Iwouldverymuch liketoknowtheopinionsandperspectivesofsomeonewhohasstudiedthis subjectformorethanthirtyyears.Iknowhehassomethingtosay,andIjustwish hewouldbemoreassertiveinsayingit. Thereisonlyoneareainwhichhehasmadeaseriouserror,andthatisin choosingtouseWade-Gilesromanizationinthetext.Whileitiscertainlytruethat pinyinisnobetterthanWade-GilesinrepresentingtheChineselanguage,itisvery muchbesidethepoint.Theissueisnolongerastrugglefordominancebetween twoequalsystems.Pinyinisnowthestandardforinstructionandpublicationin America.GeneraltextbooksonChinesecultureallusepinyin,and,withafew exceptions,mostscholarshipispublishedusingpinyin.ByinsistingonWadeGiles,Sawyerhasmadehisbookalmostunusableinclassrooms.Scholarswillhave nodifficultywiththisquirk,andpresumablysamelayreadersfindWade-Giles morecomfortable,butundergraduateswillfinditextremely othersome. b Notwithstandingmysmallquibblesandbemoaningsomeaspectsofthis book,Ancient Chinese WarfareisafundamentaltextforstudyingearlyChinese warfareinEnglish.IthassignificantlyadvancedthefieldofearlyChinesemilitary historyandmadeitmucheasierfornonspecialiststoaccessanenormousamount ofmaterials.Iexpecttorefertoitoften. PeterLorge Peter Lorge is an assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University, specializing in the military history of Song dynasty China. Yunnan:PeripheryorCenterofanInternationalNetwork? BinYang.Between Winds and Clouds: The Making http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Ancient Chinese Warfare (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (3) – Jun 15, 2010

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Abstract

Features 303 apreliminaryoutlineofpatterns."2ThesamemightbesaidofhisPictures for Use and PleasureinregardtohighQingvernacularpainting.Foranyonewhomight shareJamesCahill'sinterestinbetterunderstandingChinesevernacularpaintings andthesocio-historicalcontextsinwhichtheywerebothproducedandused, thereismuchtoappreciateinthisbook,whichwillundoubtedlyserveasastarting pointforallfuturestudiesofthesubject. MichaelG.Chang Michael G. Chang, author of ACourtonHorseback:ImperialTouringandthe ConstructionofQingRule,1680­1785 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), is an associate professor of Chinese history at George Mason University. NOTES 1. JamesCahill,The Painter's Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China (NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,1994). 2. SusanBush,reviewofThe Painter's Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional ChinainChina Review International1,no.1(Spring1994):272. RalphSawyer.Ancient Chinese Warfare.NewYork:BasicBooks,2011. 576pp.Paperback$39.95,isbn978-0-465-02145-1. RalphSawyerhasdoneagreatservicetothefieldofChinesemilitaryhistoryby writingAncient Chinese Warfare.Itisanextremelyusefulsourceforinformation onthemeansandmethodsofwarfare,thoughnottheactualbattles,inChina fromtheearliestavailablearchaeologicalrecorduntilroughlytheendoftheShang dynasty.Sawyer'sbookincludesadiscussionofthelegendaryprehistoricperiod. Justasimportant,itisthefirstoftwovolumes,withasecondvolumesoonto followthatwillcovertheZhoudynasty.Takentogether,assumingthesecond volumeisofcomparablequalitytotheoneunderreview,thesebookswillformthe pointofdepartureforallsubsequentstudiesinEnglishonthemilitaryhistoryof preimperialChina.Sawyerclaimsthatthesevolumesaretheresultofthree decadesormoreofresearch;fromthatperspective,thesevolumeswouldappearto beamagnumopusforhislate-in-lifecareerasatranslatorofancientChinesemilitarytexts. Ancient Chinese Warfareisitselfadenseread.Sawyerprovidesanimpressive weightofdetail,makingthecontentsofdozensofarchaeologicalreportsconvenientlyavailableinEnglishforfastreference.Forthose,likemyself,whodonot specializeinearlyChina,thisisatremendousboon.Ratherthanattempttosift © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 304 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 throughdecadesofChinesejournalsinordertofindrelevantarticlesonmattersof fortificationsorweapons,hehasalreadygonethroughthisprocess,presentingus withtheaccumulateddataofthoseyearsofreading.Itisnowasimplematterto refertoAncient Chinese Warfareandfindtherelevantcitations.Thegreatstrength ofthisbookisthatitfunctionslikeathoroughstate-of-the-fieldarticle. Itisalsoadifficultbooktoreview,notleastbecauseSawyerhastakenan unnecessarilydefensivestanceinhisintroduction,statingthat"Toensurethat Ancient Chinese Warfare,whichisintendedforthebroadestpossibleaudienceof interestedreadersratherthanjustSinologists,wouldnotonlybeaccessiblebut alsopublishedatareasonablepriceratherthananexorbitantoneappropriatetoa researchtome,certaindecisionsweremadethatwillnodoubtbebemoanedby reviewers"(p.xi).Hethengoesontoexplainwhythevolumecontainsnomaps, whythereareveryfewillustrationsoftheweapons,andwhythereisnoromanizationfortheChineseandJapaneseworksinthebibliography.Asareviewerand sinologist,itwouldseem,then,asifIamdoomedunfairlytobemoananydecisionsmadetomakethetextmoreaccessibleoraffordable.Whatmakeshis d efensivenessunnecessaryisthatwithrespectbothtoweaponillustrationsand romanizationhisdecisionsmakegoodsense.Itakemoreissuewithhislackof mapsbecausehisextensivediscussionofarchaeologicalmaterialsnecessarily mentionsdozensofsites.EvensomeonefamiliarwithChinesegeographybutwho isnotanexpertonthismaterialwouldhavetolocateamaptogetasenseofthe relationshipofthesesitestoeachother.Whilenoonelikestobecriticized,this bookisfartoousefulforSawyertobeapprehensiveabouttheordinaryprocessof review. ThemainfocusofthebookisonthephysicalcomponentsofearlyChinese warfare.Duetothepaucityofsources,Sawyerhasreasonablydecidednottospend muchtimeonbattlesandcampaigns.Anyattempttoreconstructtactics,letalone strategy,isimpossible.Ofcourse,withoutbattles,tactics,orstrategy,theaccountis dry.Heisforcedregularlytofallbackonmuchlatermilitarytextstoprovide explanationsforhowthephysicalremainsofwar--walls,weapons,andarmor--fit together.Thisisnotaverysatisfactorysolutiongiventhatthetextsinquestionnot onlybiasourinterpretationinthefirstplace,butalsoweresometimeswritten morethanathousandyearsaftertheartifactsinquestionwerecreated.Allofthe explanationsofearlywarfarebaseduponlatertextsareahistoricalandunreliable. Archaeologyisnothistory,andtheattempttousearchaeologicalevidencefor anythingotherthanarchaeologicalexplanationsisnotveryconvincing.Iwould havepreferredthatthisvolumemademoreuseofarchaeologicalmethodologyon thearchaeologicalmaterial,ratherthanattemptingtoimposehistoricalmethods onthatevidence. Ifanythingislackinginthisbook,itisanoverallsenseofhowthematerialfits together.Sawyerdoesnotseemtohaveaspecificvisionofhowwartookplace, howwarfarechangedovertime,howitfitintosociety,orevenwhyittookplace. Features 305 Tohiscredit,ratherthanmanufactureathesisforthebookthatdidnotmatchhis evidence,hechoseinsteadsimplytopresenttheinformationhehad.Mostofthe interpretationhedoesofferisfromotherscholars.Hedoesnotofferhisown interpretationbeyondtemperingthepositionsofothers,orengaginginsome limitedspeculation.Itissimilartosomeofthebooksoftranslationhehaspreviouslypublishedinwhichheexpectsthetranslatedmaterialtospeakforitself.This materialisimportant,butitdoesnotspeakforitself.Moreover,Iwouldverymuch liketoknowtheopinionsandperspectivesofsomeonewhohasstudiedthis subjectformorethanthirtyyears.Iknowhehassomethingtosay,andIjustwish hewouldbemoreassertiveinsayingit. Thereisonlyoneareainwhichhehasmadeaseriouserror,andthatisin choosingtouseWade-Gilesromanizationinthetext.Whileitiscertainlytruethat pinyinisnobetterthanWade-GilesinrepresentingtheChineselanguage,itisvery muchbesidethepoint.Theissueisnolongerastrugglefordominancebetween twoequalsystems.Pinyinisnowthestandardforinstructionandpublicationin America.GeneraltextbooksonChinesecultureallusepinyin,and,withafew exceptions,mostscholarshipispublishedusingpinyin.ByinsistingonWadeGiles,Sawyerhasmadehisbookalmostunusableinclassrooms.Scholarswillhave nodifficultywiththisquirk,andpresumablysamelayreadersfindWade-Giles morecomfortable,butundergraduateswillfinditextremely othersome. b Notwithstandingmysmallquibblesandbemoaningsomeaspectsofthis book,Ancient Chinese WarfareisafundamentaltextforstudyingearlyChinese warfareinEnglish.IthassignificantlyadvancedthefieldofearlyChinesemilitary historyandmadeitmucheasierfornonspecialiststoaccessanenormousamount ofmaterials.Iexpecttorefertoitoften. PeterLorge Peter Lorge is an assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University, specializing in the military history of Song dynasty China. Yunnan:PeripheryorCenterofanInternationalNetwork? BinYang.Between Winds and Clouds: The Making

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2010

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