by Morgan Deane
Yardley, Pa.: Westholme Publishing, 2017. Pp. xiv, 196.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 1594162891
A “First Book” of Chinese Military History
Deane, a journalist and independent scholar, with an eclectic body of work, offers a survey of Chinese military history for the non-specialist. He covers events and trends from the Warring States Period in the fourth century B.C. through the Second World War.
Each of Deane’s twelve chapters gives the reader a survey of the general history and the military trends in a particular era. He then concentrates on a fairly detailed account of one notably important battle in the period, in order to illustrate the military system at work, usually using some well done maps.
In the course of his account, Deane frequently scatters commentaries on the prevailing cultural environment, political and military patterns across Chinese history, looks at the Chinese military classics, gives the reader critiques of various commanders, Chiang and Mao in particular both coming in for some serious re-evaluation, offers frequent parallels or comparisons with events in other parts of the world, and more.
Given Deane’s lack of deep background in the subject, there are some problems with the work, which is based largely on English language sources. Nevertheless, considering his purpose, to offer an introduction to the subject for the general reader, Deane has produced a very useful book for those lacking any knowledge of Chinese military history, but one which offers little for the more learned student of the subject
Note: Decisive Battles in Chinese History is also available in several e-editions.