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Princeton University Press (January 2016)
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China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History

by Andrade, Tonio

The Chinese invented gunpowder and began exploring its military uses as early as the 900s, four centuries before the technology passed to the West. But by the early 1800s, China had fallen so far behind the West in gunpowder warfare that it was easily defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1839–42. What happened? Tonio Andrade offers a compelling new answer, opening a fresh perspective on a key question of world history: why did the countries of western Europe surge to global importance starting in the 1500s while China slipped behind?

Historians have long argued that gunpowder weapons helped Europeans establish global hegemony. Yet the inhabitants of what is today China not only invented guns and bombs but also, as Andrade shows, continued to innovate in gunpowder technology through the early 1700s—much longer than previously thought. Why, then, did China become so vulnerable? Andrade argues that one significant reason is that it was out of practice fighting wars, having enjoyed nearly a century of relative peace, since 1760. Indeed, he demonstrates that China—like Europe—was a powerful military innovator, particularly during times of great warfare, such as the violent century starting after the Opium War, when the Chinese once again quickly modernized their forces. Today, China is simply returning to its old position as one of the world's great military powers.

Tonio Andrade is professor of history at Emory University .

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A vigorous military history of China.

Review: Kirkus Reviews

China invented gunpowder, guns, and bombs, so how did the West overtake, defeat, and humiliate the Chinese by the nineteenth century? Tackling one of history's biggest unsolved mysteries, The Gunpowder Age is indispensable to debates in world history--and as exciting, dramatic, and engaging as a novel. -- Jared Diamond

Quote: Blurb

At last we have a history of gunpowder that has been reconstructed as it should be, from both ends of the Eurasian continent. With the vigilance of the good historian and the zest of the good storyteller, Tonio Andrade argues brilliantly that the gunpowder age was as much the creation of China as of Europe. Let the controversy begin.-- Timothy Brook, author of Mr. Selden's Map of China

Quote: Blurb

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