The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth

Arthur Waldron, Author Cambridge University Press $59.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-521-36518-5
China's modern rulers have nurtured the popular myth that the Great Wall of China is a single, continuous barrier built in the third century B.C. and surviving to the present. Actually, as Princeton historian Waldron demonstrates in a landmark study, most of what we today call the Great Wall was built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Despotic, palace-reared Ming rulers, fearful of a potential invasion by Mongols and other nomads, chose wall-building over trade or diplomatic relations. But the Ming fortifications, like the French Maginot Line, proved ineffective: Manchu warriors entered China in 1644, captured Peking and established the Ch'ing dynasty, a vast multiethnic empire which lasted until 1912. The Great Wall became a symbol of failure and irrelevance. Its recent transformation into China's unofficial national symbol is an enigma deftly unraveled in Waldron's investigation, one of the few books that change our basic assumptions about China. Illustrations. History Book Club selection. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-521-42707-4
Ebook - 310 pages - 978-1-316-26063-0
Ebook - 318 pages - 978-1-316-26610-6
Ebook - 318 pages - 978-1-316-26355-6
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