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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 ...

A Singular Entity

Peter C. Perdue: Classical China, 20 May 2021

What Is China?: Territory, Ethnicity, Culture and History 
by Ge Zhaoguang, translated by Michael Gibbs Hill.
Harvard, 224 pp., £31.95, March 2019, 978 0 674 73714 3
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... up the classical tradition against existentialist and postmodern critiques.Global historians like Timothy Brook and Pamela Crossley view the short but tumultuous reign of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), when China was under Mongol rule, as constituting an epochal shift: China’s rulers for the first time claimed it as a ‘Great State’ with pretensions ...

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 ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... than punting on the Grand National, where one of the favourites could easily fall at Becher’s Brook. But for a late and largely undetected Labour surge in the run-up to the 2017 general election, Theresa May might now be steering us through the Covid-19 crisis: trusted, sensible and reliable, however costively unimaginative and incapable of the nimble ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... and the details of a £1.3 million TV ad campaign for the DirectGov website starring Kelly Brook. Hartley argued she was trying to reveal the reality beneath the political spin. The Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade gave evidence for her, telling jurors that political journalism depended on leaks. Some sources wanted payment, he wrote later: ‘No ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water, 31 July 2008

... savage torrents. The major obstacle between these suddenly angry watercourses – the Carrant Brook, the Tirlebrook, the Little Fid and the Swilgate – and the two big rivers of the valley was the town of Tewkesbury, its ten thousand inhabitants and the Mythe waterworks. Gloucestershire’s public servants – the councils, the health service, the police ...

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