1587: The Year Of No Significance

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1587: The Year of No Significance Précis Ray Huang contends, in 1587: The Year of No Significance, that the year of 1587 of the Ming Dynasty is significant for linking the past history of China and the future events of it (Huang 1). Huang exemplifies the importance of how the many failures of adapting and innovating by members of the government were led up to and realized in this year, along with their future effects on China (221). Altogether, Huang advocates for the noteworthiness of 1587 as a connecting point of Chinese history. Telling the story of 1587, Huang displays the year in a similar fashion to Sima Qian’s The First Emperor. Like Sima Qian, this telling of history focuses on one specific character for each chapter. It is chronological for each chapter, but each chapter overlaps, in part, with the ones before and following it in a more cyclical format. This means that this book has less of a western and, therefore,…show more content…
He starts with a chapter on the Wan-li Emperor before branching out into focusing on his underlings in the government. For each character, he lists their successes along with their background before reaching the controversy that inevitably surrounds them, leading to their downfall. Throughout the chapters, it becomes noticeable that many of the controversies arise due to Chang Chü-cheng, an imperial tutor and formerly, highly respected grand-secretary to Wan-li. After being disgraced after death, anyone associated with him in government immediately came under suspicion and eventually got ousted. Many of the following chapters focused on characters who fit such a description, like General Chi’ Chi-Kuang and Li Chih. All in all, Huang’s different character focused chapters developed the background needed to exhibit the significance of 1587 and the sequential years after
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