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Limitless Empire

Edward Luttwak: Very Un-Mongol

19 March 2020
Great State: China and the World 
by Timothy Brook.
Profile, 464 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 78125 828 6
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... and undoings in the past as well as the present has further increased. Demand evokes supply, and Timothy Brook has supplied his Great State, in which his solid Sinological scholarship is complemented by a very effective use of maps (as well as the world’s first globe, from 1492, which shows China as Cathaja and Japan as Cipangu, with Spain and Africa ...

Open to Words

Svetlana Alpers: Vermeer and Globalisation

26 February 2009
Vermeer’s Hat: The 17th Century and the Dawn of the Global World 
by Timothy Brook.
Profile, 272 pp., £18.99, July 2008, 978 1 84668 112 7
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... Timothy Brook’s subject in Vermeer’s Hat is the ‘global world’ of the 17th century. Brook is a historian of China who wants to consider the lure of China for others. The dream of China, he argues, is the imaginative thread that runs through the history of early modern Europe’s struggle to reach the wider world; he admires the energy and drive of the Europeans who devised means to do this ...

The Rule of the Road

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: What is an empire?

12 February 2009
After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empire 
by John Darwin.
Penguin, 592 pp., £10.99, March 2008, 978 0 14 101022 9
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... where the jury is still out, such as Safavid Iran or (if one credits Darwin’s Oxford colleague Timothy Brook) Ming – as opposed to Qing – China, because they had only weak imperial traits. 5. Contiguous land empires, as distinct from empires whose territories were separated by large stretches of water. 6. Empires made up of tiny territories ...

Gloves Off

Glen Newey: Torture

29 January 2009
Death by a Thousand Cuts 
by Timothy Brook, Jérôme Bourgon and Gregory Blue.
Harvard, 320 pp., £22.95, March 2008, 978 0 674 02773 2
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Standard Operating Procedure: A War Story 
by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris.
Picador, 286 pp., £8.99, January 2009, 978 0 330 45201 4
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Torture Team: Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law 
by Philippe Sands.
Allen Lane, 315 pp., £20, May 2008, 978 1 84614 008 2
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... Like making jokes or copulating without regard to season, torturing is one of those activities that distinguish human beings from other animals. Inflicted both on our congeners and on other species, it marks us out, in the words of the King of Brobdingnag, as a pernicious race of little odious vermin. Even Richard Rorty, the self-styled postmodernist liberal, felt able to pronounce that cruelty was ‘the worst thing we do ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden

7 January 2016
... not a policeman.’* ‘We have paid the police for information in the past,’ Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the Sun, told the Commons select committee for culture, media and sport in March 2003. (Piers Morgan, at the time editor of the Daily Mirror, privately chided Brooks for ‘dropping the tabloid ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water

31 July 2008
... on them. Much of this water soon found its way west, seeking the Avon and Severn. Normally sleepy brooks and streams became savage torrents. The major obstacle between these suddenly angry watercourses – the Carrant Brook, the Tirlebrook, the Little Fid and the Swilgate – and the two ...

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