'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

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'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:32 pm

'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' is a thesis written by Yimin Lu for a degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto.

It recently got shared in a Facebook group I belong to and I bookmarked it to come back to later. I'm told it is in the public domain so we are free to distribute it as we like. I'm now reading it and think it is an interesting piece. It is one of the few academic writings I know of that focuses on the military history specifically of the Later Han Dynasty.

This is the contents page:

Introduction (1-22)

Chapter One (23-68)
The Age of Warlords
1. The Eastern Han – Three Kingdoms Transition
2. Han Military Institutions
3. Three Kingdoms Military Organizations: Adjustments and
Developments
4. Han Military Aristocracy

Chapter Two (69-104)
The Everyday Warriors
1. Social Standing
2. Occupational Backgrounds
3. Daily Necessities
4. Military Market
5. The Soldiers’ Women: Marriage and Prostitution
6. Military Pastimes

Chapter Three (105-137)
Military Equipment: Physical and Mental
1. Arms and Armor
2. Military Theories, Codes of Warfare

Chapter Four (138-173)
Noble Veterans of the North
1. The Tiger Guards: Dian Wei 典韋 and Xu Chu 許褚
2. Zhang Liao 張遼
3. Zhang He 張郃
4. Xu Huang 徐晃
5. Xiahou Dun 夏侯憞
6. Cao Ren 曹仁

Chapter Five (174-208)
The Five Tigers
1. Guan Yu 關羽
2. Zhang Fei 張飛
3. Ma Chao 馬超
4. Huang Zhong 黃忠
5. Zhao Yun 趙雲

Chapter Six (209-240)
The Southerners: Last But Not the Least
1. Taishi Ci 太史慈
2. Dong Xi 董襲
3. Chen Wu 陳武
4. Gan Ning 甘寧
5. Ling Tong 淩統
6. Pan Zhang 潘璋

Chapter Seven (241-276)
History and Romance

Appendices (277-279)
Bibliography (280-302)
Glossary (303-327)

I'm just about to start reading chapter 3 but here are my thoughts so far:

Chapter 1 was a context chapter. The author started with a general recap of earlier military history, then examined the political history that provides the context for the military history. There were a few minor question marks in this section - he seems to imply that Liu Bei took part in the anti-Dong Zhuo campaign for example. Lastly in this chapter he also summarizes Prof De Crispigny's Later Han Military Organisation.

However chapter 2's focus on the common man in the army meant he is covering ground I've not encountered before. I particularly enjoyed the section on military pastimes and soldier's women. However chapter 3's section on equipment is what I'm most interested in. I think both chapter 2 and 3 will provide new information for most of us, in contrast I've not read the individual figure analysis yet but I'd be surprised if there was much in there which isn't covered by the SGZ/Rafe's tome but you never know!

Anyway I thought I'd share it and allow the scholars to sink their teeth in. You guys will be the best judges of it's historical accuracy I'm sure!
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Akirus » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:18 pm

Looks promising, thanks for sharing. I'm especially interested in the new ground you mentioned, will give it a read when I have the time.
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:24 pm

Welcome to the board, Akirus.

My pleasure, I try to share Three Kingdom sources whenever I can! Have you stumbled across this thread previously?
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Akirus » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:38 am

I actually have; incidentally, from your signature, haha. It's a very helpful resource, thank you.
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:10 am

My pleasure! If you know of any sources I've missed please feel free to tell me about them!
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Akirus » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:30 am

Only one I have that's not on your list is The Bureaucracy of Han Times; I found it when following up references in one of Rafe's works.

Here's the preface from the book: http://puu.sh/AXOJs/afa9e2dd43.png
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:50 am

Yes good spot! It's on my personal amazon wish list but apparent I never added it to the thread. Thanks for pointing that out :D. Prof Bielenstein was actually De Crispigny's mentor and I would love to get my hands on his long out of print 'Lo-yang in Later Han Times'!
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:08 am

Yes chapters 2 and 3 look very interesting. Things like the military market, I'm guessing that is a big part of what got Pan Zhang included.

It is funny to me that the author strictly stuck with the Five Tigers for Shu, but deviated from the respective "fives" of Wei and Wu.
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:15 am

The section on the markets isn't huge but wasn't a topic I'd really encountered before other than in a specific discussion about Pan Zhang as you alluded too.

I was somewhat surprised that he deviated from the five of Wei but not so much the five of Wu. The equivalent Wu chapter in the SGZ has more than five generals and misses the best of the lot as Taishi Ci is in a different one! The impression I got was that the writer has an especial interest in Dian Wei and Xiahou Dun so ensured that he could write about them. :lol:
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Re: 'Talons and Fangs of the Eastern Han Warlords' Thesis

Unread postby Aaron.K » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:59 am

This is a really great thesis, though I am disappointed by the fact that he took the weight of Dian Wei's weapon at face value (although unfortunately a lot of military historians while writing about weaponry, often aren't familiar with the handling of them or how a weapon that heavy is unfeasible. A 40-50 lb weapon; especially a polearm, would effectively be an Olympic standard barbell for weightlifting competitions. Accessing these to try and use like a spear/halberd are pretty easy, you just need to go to any gym. Heck, one only has to watch strongmen competitions to see the amount of effort it takes to swing heavy objects to realize that something that heavy is impractical on a battlefield. Unless of course, Dian Wei wasn't human and was actually from Krypton.)

So far I'm at the part about Zhang Fei. I had hoped there might be some new developments in the generals sections, but they're mostly just summaries of the biographies and some folk material. There is some good information in those parts though (like showing how Xiahou Dun's appointment and rewards were likely the result of nepotism despite Cao Cao's penchant for meritocracy). The first three chapters however are exceptional and have given me some new information, and I'm looking forward to reading chapter seven and the appendices.
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