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Imperial Chinese Armies (1): 200 BC-AD 589: 200 BC-589 AD v. 1 (Men-at-Arms) Paperback – 17 Jul 1995
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About the Author
An acknowledged expert on ancient Chinese armies, CJ Peers has written several books on this subject for Osprey's Men-at-Arms series, including Men-at-Arms 218: Ancient Chinese Armies 1500-200 BC and Men-at-Arms 251: Medieval Chinese Armies 1260-1520. Michael Perry started producing miniature figures for the wargames industry in the late 1970s while still at school, and for many years he has worked for both Games Workshop and Wargames Foundry. He has a highly distinctive and realistic style, and has illustrated a number of Osprey publications including MAA 275 The Taiping Rebellion and Campaign 54 Shiloh 1862. His work will also be familiar to readers of many popular Wargame magazines including Military Modelling.
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The text, although short, gives a great lot of information and a good overview of the events. Note however, that such a long and full of events period can be covered in such a short book only very superficially.
Illustrations of archaeological findings are very impressive. Maps are less good - their aspect is quite crude and they are reduced to the simplest. Color plates are not very famous either. Ancient Chinese armies were extremely colorful and impressive, but you will not see it on the plates here. Details on the pictures are also badly made - overall impression is that the illustrator didn't give a damn about his work. An updated edition of this book with new artwork could be a good idea
Still I do not regret that I bought it - it was my point of departure for more readings on the topic.
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Like most of the books published the Osprey Publishing Company, this book contains a chronology of events and a number of relevant maps of China during the period of time under consideration in the book. This makes the book an excellent book to have close at hand as a reference book while reading other books on the same topic.
The author takes a look at some vital aspects of the early Imperial armies, such as the influence of the barbarian tribes on equipment and tactics (he shows how 'cataphract' heavy cavalry spread not only westwards from the steppes but east into China as well). He also takes a fairly deep look at the grand political and military aspects of ancient China, showing how Chinese history in this period is not as simple as one dynasty being overcome, leading to several years of civil war before another ambitious young warlord founded his own dynasty, only to repeat the cycle several centuries later.
The author divides the military history of China in this period into several parts, each being discussed individually. Weapons, battle tactics, recruitment, and military thought are all profiled as well. The color plates by Michael Perry support the text well, and are of high quality. Plate 'C' is my favorite; it shows a Han lancer about to kill a Hsiung-nu horse archer.
Overall, this book is a valuable source on the armies of the Han and Sung Dynasties of ancient China, and of their barbarian neighbors, and makes an interesting and informable read.