This book covers a very long time span - over 1,800 years - so at first glance one might expect it to be something thin on details, but that isn't the case. Turnbull begins with a general introduction (don't expect to make any sense of the bewilderingly complex dynastic background), and a general overview of the theories behind Chinese fortifications, but the heart of the book is a series of case studies.
The longest chapter in the book is 'The Great Fortified Cities of China', which looks at a series of important fortified cities from across the time period. In most cases these studies are supported by pictures of the often very impressive remains or by plans and reconstructions, which give an idea of the vast scale of some of the fortifications involved.
One of the most interesting sections looks at the city under siege, taking six case studies, starting with Yubi in 546 AD and ending with Shaozing in 1359 AD, some supported by extracts from contemporary accounts.
The text is supported by some brilliant photographs, starting with the rammed earth and brick walls of Datong and going up to the elaborate gates of Nanjing. This is a fascinating look at a little known subject, and makes one want to visit the sites being described.
Design and Development
The Principles of Defence
The Great Fortified Cities of China
The Living Sites
The Sites at War
The Sites Today
Author: Stephen Turnbull