At the same time, China has launched an ambitious development program in its interior that in many ways echoes the old Qing policies. China Marches West is. Perdue thus illuminates how China came to rule Central Eurasia and how it justifies that control, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. PDF | Book review of Peter Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Published in Pointer: Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. From about tothe Qing empire of China expanded to unprecedented size. Through astute diplomacy, economic investment, and a series of ambitious military campaigns into the heart of Central Eurasia, the Manchu rulers defeated the Zunghar Mongols, and brought all of modern Xinjiang and Mongolia under their control.

Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about China Marches Westplease sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jul 12, Hadrian rated it eeurasia liked it Shelves: The Zhungar warrior Ayuxi, Giuseppe Castiglione.

China Marches West – Peter C Perdue – Google Books

National Palace Museum, Taiwan. You have conquered the empire on horseback; but can you rule it on horseback? Yet somehow in eurasiia process of writing the first English language study of this little corner of Central Eurasia and its conquest by the Qing Empire, Dr. Perdue has somehow turned this topic into a brick of a book, addressing everything from economics and logistics to the future role of the Qing Empire in world history.

The first part of the vhina is a prelude, which describes the environment of Central Eurasia, and the rise of the Zunghar Khanate.

It was a state which rapidly became sandwiched between two expanding frontier empires – the Manchu-Qing Empire from the east, and the Muscovite Russian kingdom from the West. Map of the Zunghar Empire, pg. Please expand for further detail. The Ming previously focused on grand military expeditions which promised prestige but were often extremely expensive and produced little or no gain.

The nomadic nature of the Zunghars and other Mongol groups made such campaigns a logistical nightmare. Here, Perdue asserts that it cenfral the vast Central Eurasian steppe which is the common element in the formation of three marchex – Manchu, Mongol, and Russian. It is through the combination of multiple traditions and methods of governance which led to the formation of state-building, not just the fo melding of two concepts.

For the Russians, it could be steppe diplomacy, cavalry, as well as Orthodox Christianity. For the Manchu-Qing, it could be Mongolian leadership, horsemanship, as well as Chinese language and Manchu kinship structures.

The second part of the book discusses the military narrative itself, stretching from A central focus in this part of the book is the campaign against the Mongol leader Galdan led by the Kangxi Emperor r. This emperor was one of the most able in history. During his reign, he suppressed a Ming rebellion, made peace with Vietnam, and overran all of Taiwan, Mongolia, and Tibet, ordered the compilations of Tang poetry and a Chinese dictionary, and cemented territorial expansions which no other Eursia emperor had ever achieved in centuries, or even held in the long term.

In the case of the campaign against the Zunghars, he led the campaign personally, and much of his correspondence survives, an invaluable wext source. Despite achieving the logistical miracle of sending multiple armies into Mongolia, his campaign is only a partial strategic victory, ending with the death of his Mongol counterpart by plague, and barely saved from starvation with qiing seizure of the Mongol army’s supplies.


The Kangxi Emperor wearing armor. Off Palace Museum, Beijing. The Treaty of Nerchinsk, between Qing and Russia, further delineated the borders and sealed the Zunghar’s fate. By the late 18th century, the Zunghar Khanate was dismembered, and the Qing and Muscovites had control over the central steppe.

China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

It was a political arrangement which would survive albeit in Soviet-Maoist form until o The era of steppe nomads was over. The book then moves from a narrative history to an analytic. Part Three addresses economic basis of the Qing Empire, and Perdue characterizes the war as an exercise in competitive state-building.

The Zunghars attempted to extract agricultural and mining resourcecs from their territories and attempted to control their own dominions with greater speed and accuracy. The Qing, of course, outnumbered them, and so did all of the preceding Chinese dynasties. Their success was in their improved logistics and transportation system, much improved over the Ming’s.

This was how the Kangxi emperor was able to march three armies into Mongolia and Zungharia, and transport cannons and gunpowder overland as well. Of course, it also helps that the Kangxi and Xianlong emperors presided over periods of economic growth and increased grain production. When wide famines occurred over the midth century, there was even a disaster management system which prevented the worst of the famines again in a limited and haphazard manner. The fourth part of the book addresses changes in the historiography of the subject.

I can only comment on this partially, as I am unfamiliar with the other writings by Owen Lattimore and others. However, it is particularly interesting to note the changes in the Qing historiography of events, by subtly rearranging the dates and other events to create a more cohesive organization of events.

The death of Galdan, for example, occurred before a decisive battle, not after, but this was changed to reflect a divinely ordained series of events. The Qing also produced monuments in the hinterland as well as the frontier, commemorating and making visible reminders of their victory. The fifth and final part of the book is about the legacies of these northern frontier wars, and a re-interpretation of the role of the Qing Empire and its influence on Modern China.

The territory which is now comprised by the People’s Republic was not always a grand unified cohesive whole, nor was there always a single Chinese statebut in this case a multi-ethnic empire.

Perhaps like the Russians or the Ottomans, but on a vaster scale, with wide stretches of inhospitable terrain and an enormous population, comprising some , by the beginning of the 19th century. As stated earlier, this was an exercise in competitive nation-building, and the Qing were exceedingly able at it at their peak.

They could split apart and sow discord among their enemies, and could use mercantile power where otherwise military means would have failed. The northwestern frontier, now known as Xinjiang literally meaning New Frontierwas pacified through various forms of settlement and grain shipments, as the area did not always have agricultural lands and was not always self-sustaining. What was never before a part of China became an integral part of it, and the successor states to the Qing never really let go to all of their territorial claims and influences.

Perdue emphasizes that this is also a story of frontier expansion as well as state-building, and that comparisons can be made with the Russian and American marches to the Pacific. However, when this conquest was complete, the military and other state-building apparatuses were dismantled. The Qing gave up on being a colonial empire too early.


In addition to this, there is a further explanation for their relative decline. How could a power so vast, with such advanced weaponry and a modern political apparatus, be brought so low by the end of the 19th century? Perdue emphasizes that it is political corruption, not ecological determinism.

He also addresses the explanations brought up by Pomeranz et al. This is a vast and ambitious study, and aims to upend the old myths of nationalist but also Euro-centric history.

There are less than pages on the military narrative, and almost all of the rest are on the repercussions thereof.

China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia by Peter C. Perdue

This is also a largely Sino-centric history, and some others might ask if an alternate perspective was possible. The use of primary sources becomes increasingly difficult with the broader scope I’m asking.

I mean, the author already knows Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, and some Japanese. But I can’t even fathom how could such a project be done. How much more can one man do? I strongly recommended this book for specialists, Sinologists, and everybody at grad student level or above. In the mountain range of books about China, this one is about as easy to tackle as the north face of the Eiger, but it is exhilarating if you can take it.

The book is finely made. With a little digging, you could likely find a used copy for cheaper. View all 5 comments. Jan 10, Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing Shelves: I knew I didn’t do justice to this book.

I’m on page 18 of a second read and have no notion why I didn’t five-star this.

He argues for ‘human agency’ in history, and feels that previous history, of the steppe and China — specific to this time but not only — has refused to grant human agency to the actors in history, through too much determinative theory eg.

Historians deal far too much in ‘biological imagery and mechanical causation’ particularly when they talk about steppe events — as if nomads never changed, or indeed have no minds of their own. Old China, too, has a frozen feel in our written history, that he believes is quite false. When he writes about events he stresses ‘the indeterminacy of the outcome’.

The choices people had. The accidents or the off-the-cuff decisions that sent history the way it went. It might have been different. At every junction [I meant to write ‘juncture’, but that’ll do] he wants to tell you, it might have been different. That’s an exciting sort of history to read. It struck me then that this is how a novelist operates; he tells me a historian should, too, and his history can have a novel-like ‘what happens next?

A quote from that article: After the battles have been lost and won, it is tempting to search for definitive causes of one side’s victory, but it is equally important to recapture the sense of uncertainty that the protagonists experienced during the fog of war.

It’s true I was bored stiff by grain transportation when I read this, but of such stuff is history on-the-ground made. We’ll see the 2nd time around. To offset the exhaustive detail it has great pictures: