History of Central Eurasia by Peter Perdue

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In China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia, Peter Perdue gives a detailed account of the history of central Eurasia from the end of the Yuen dynasty to the successful conquest and incorporation of modern day central Eurasia into china by the early Qing emperors, as well as the implications and legacies this conquest has in the future. This book is written in five parts in a loosely chronological order, each with a distinct theme. Part One, “The Formation of Eurasian States” introduces the three major powers in central Eurasia, China, Russia, and the Zunghar State. Perdue describes central Eurasia as an “unbounded” land stretching from “the Ukrainian steppes in the west to the shores of the Pacific in the east, from the southern edge of the Siberian forests to the Tibetan plateau” populated by nomadic tribes who had no clearly defined national boundaries . Historical sources concerning Central Asia people in Central Eurasia are scares due to the lack of writing ability in the vast majority of the nomadic population. Writers from the “civilized” world such as China described these people as exclusively nomadic and “universally greedy, primitive, and poor” . Despite the lack of historical records in the area, the area has historically played an important role in linking the eastern civilizations to the western civilizations, which played a major part in global trade up until the sixteenth century . Although the nomads of the steppes in Central Eurasia has long been accused of constant raiding of “civilized” settlements such as in north western parts of China, Sechin Jagchid argues that peace was possible if the nomad’s needs were satisfied by trade, so that the they did not have to take supplies by force in order... ... middle of paper ... ...sive account of the struggle for the vast swathes of land in Central Eurasia between China, Russia, and the Zhunghar state from the 17th century from the formation of the three states to the eventual domination of Eurasia by Russia and China and the elimination of the Zunghar as a people. Throughout the book, Perdue argued convincingly against the traditional Chinese believe that a “Heavenly will” determined the inevitable fate of Central Eurasia, instead, it was the few “contingent conjuncture” such as Li Zicheng’s rebellion which allowed the Manchus to take China as well as Qianlong’s unprecedented decision to exterminate the Zunghars which ended the millennium struggle against northern nomadic invasion. This book enlightens the reader by demonstrating the number of “conjunctures” in history that makes up the geopolitical landscape of modern day Central Eurasia.

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