liang cai. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2014. Pp. 288. The chief aim of Professor Liang Cai's book is to apply an innovative approach of quantitative research to challenge the time-honored narrative of the victory of Confucianism during the reign of Emperor Wu (r. 14187 BCE) in the Han dynasty. In so doing, it works to paint a new picture of the rise of the first Confucian empire from the aftermath of Emperor Wu's witchcraft trials. The book comprises five chapters. In the first chapter, Cai wastes no time in adducing statistical evidence collected from Sima Qian's Shiji and Ban Gu's Hanshu, providing seven charts and tables concerning high officials under Emperor Wu, including the Three Dukes, Nine Ministers, and senior officials of the metropolitan area. Among the 141 people who reached these positions, Cai is able to identify seventy-seven social origins, career patterns, intellectual orientations, and social networks. Of these seventy-seven, she finds that only six (7.8 percent) were defined as ru (Confucians) by Sima Qian. She thus concludes that they were in fact a powerless minority on the political stage of the period. Chapter
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Feb 5, 2015
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