By Valerie Hansen

The Open Empire

Second Edition

The Open Empire blends a core political narrative with a discussion of cultural and social history, offering a fresh approach to early Chinese history. The chronological narrative rests on a rich variety of archeological and literary sources that illuminate the details of daily life, family relations, and social hierarchies. Peopling the pages are nobles, peasants, women, students, writers, and rebels—each offering a distinct and colorful perspective.  

The Open Empire  highlights China’s many borrowings from her neighbors. From the spread of Buddhism from India after the fall of the Han to the interactions between Tang-dynasty China and the Islamic world, other cultures have continuously influenced China. Hansen shows China to have an open, dynamic history, not one that is isolated and unchanging, and so places early China in a global context.

The Second Edition has been updated with findings from recent scholarship and streamlined throughout to highlight the main themes. A new chapter on the Qing Empire, 1600–1800, carries the story of the “open empire” up to the birth of modern China. This edition includes new maps and more than 100 illustrations—25% of which are new to this edition.

The Year 1000

The year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly thirty years of research, Valerie Hansen presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies.

The Open Empire

This book explains how this very modest commercial artery became the world’s most famous cultural superhighway.