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Kenneth Chase traces the history of firearms from their invention in China in the 1100s to the 1700s, when European firearms had become clearly superior. In Firearms, Chase asks why it was the Europeans who perfected firearms, not the Chinese, and answers this question by looking at how firearms were used throughout the world. Early firearms were restricted to infantry and siege warfare, limiting their use outside of Europe and Japan. Steppe and desert nomads imposed a different style of warfare on the Middle East, India, and China--a style incompatible with firearms. By the time that better firearms allowed these regions to turn the tables on the nomads, Japan's self-imposed isolation left Europe with no rival in firearms design, production, or use, with lasting consequences. After earning his doctorate from Harvard in the area of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and traveling extensively in Asia, Kenneth Chase pursued a career in the law. His interest in history endures unabated, however, and after nine years of research on firearms, he is now working on a history of international trade in the Indian Ocean region in the 1300s and 1400s.Read more
- Was the first global history of firearms in English written by a specialist in non-European history
- Extensive discussion of China, Japan, and the Islamic world as well as Europe
- Transcends the military revolution debate
Reviews & endorsements
"The gun (cannon, musket, rifle, machinegun, etc.) has been the prime tool of war for most of a thousand years. The Chinese invented it, but it was the Europeans who refined it and made it an instrument of world hegemony. That mysterious migration of technology and obsession from east to west is the subject of Kenneth Chase's insightful book, along with what firearms did to and for Turks, Mughals, Japanese, and all the rest of us."
- Alfred W. Crosby, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas, AustinSee more reviews
"Kenneth Chase's book is indeed a delight and a great achievement. His central claim is that each of the major agrarian governments of Eurasia used gunpowder weapons in a rational way, and that difference depended on geographical circumstances, not on cultural traditions or soldiers' stubborn affection for horses. The breadth of information and the precision of his interpretation are exhilarating. Chase unites extraordinary learning with even more extraordinary wisdom and presents them to us in easy, graceful prose."
- William H. McNeill, Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago, author of The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society Since A.D. 1000(1982)
"The particular value of this wide-ranging and well-written work on a crucial period in military history is its author's strong grasp of the situation in East Asia. It is unusual to have such a specialist write more widely on the topic, and this gives Chase a distinctive voice. His particular concern is the relationship of nomads to firearms and he carefully links this to the respective success and failure of individual military systems. Chase's book will play a major role in the discussion of early-modern military history."
- Jeremy Black, Professor in History, Exeter University
"A tour de force of scholarship that should become a fundamental text and resource for all interested in world and Asian history."
- Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania
"Few works on military history do what Chase manages to do here, develop a specific theory in its widest possible context."
- Technology and Culture, Robert Smith
"As a whole, this book is a remarkable tour de force and should become required reading for students of military history.
- Sixteenth Century Journal, James R. Smither, Grand Valley State University
"The comparative breadth of the analysis is commendable." - Jonathan Grant, Florida State University
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- Date Published: July 2003
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521822749
- length: 310 pages
- dimensions: 239 x 154 x 26 mm
- weight: 0.59kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Oikoumene
China to 1500: The invention of firearms
The rise of the Ming
The Ming military
The Hongwu campaigns
The Yongle campaigns
The South Seas
Europe: The introduction of firearms
Sieges and battles
Guns and horses
Guns and ships
Guns and bows
Western Islamdom: Turkey
The Ottoman military
The Mamluk military
Eastern Islamdom: Iran
The Safavid military
Safavid success or failure?
China From 1500: Foreign firearms
New Chinese firearms
The Great Wall
The fall of the Ming
The Qing dynasty
Korea and Japan: Korea
The first invasion of Korea
The Korean response
The second invasion of Korea
Conclusion: Firearms after 1700
The world after 1700
Wagons and pikes
Firearms and nomads.
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