"The King's Harvest" by Brian Lander

The King's Harvest A Political Ecology of China from the First Farmers to the First Empire Brian Lander

Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Publication date:
25 Jan 2022
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
26 b-w illus.
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A multidisciplinary environmental history of early China’s political systems, featuring newly available Chinese archaeological data

This book is a multidisciplinary study of the ecology of China’s early political systems up to the fall of the first empire in 207 BCE. Brian Lander traces the transformation of lowland North China’s landscapes from diverse forests and steppes to farmland. He argues that the growth of states in ancient China, and elsewhere, was based on their ability to exploit the labor and resources of those who harnessed photosynthetic energy from domesticated plants and animals. Focusing on the state of Qin, Lander synthesizes abundant new scientific, archaeological, and excavated documentary sources to argue that the human domination of the Guanzhong region, and the rest of the planet, was based on the development of complex political structures that managed and expanded agroecosystems.

Brian Lander is assistant professor of history at Brown University and a fellow of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. He lives in Providence, RI.