A Political Life in Ming China: A Grand Secretary and His Times

This fascinating history uncovers the hidden political world of Ming China, exploring how the most powerful man in mid-sixteenth-century China steered the empire through the worst crises it had ever faced. Distinguished scholar John W. Dardess traces how Chief Grand Secretary Xu Jie rose to power and successfully shepherded the Ming empire through the destructive mid-sixteenth-century raids along its continental and maritime frontiers. He also shows how Xu Jie used the new Confucian thinking of the Wang Yangming school to build a political following, suppress bureaucratic corruption, and liberalize bureaucratic procedures. Drawing on years of research, Dardess uses Xu's hundreds of letters to officials and records of talks with the emperors he served to tell this long-neglected story in rich and engrossing detail.