Strange Parallels: Patterns in Eurasian Social Evolution

Peter Turchin


Most professional historians have abandoned the search for general patterns and laws of history, but not Victor Lieberman. Strange Parallels II (SP II), following on SP I, proposes that similar mechanisms governed state building in such different, and distant, regions as Southeast Asia, China, Western Europe, and Russia. During the period covered by Lieberman (c.8001830) the general trend within these regions of Eurasia was towards increasing political and cultural integration. This overall trend was not monotonic; it was periodically interrupted by interregna periods of state breakdown and territorial fragmentation. However, as time unfolded the interregna became shorter and less disruptive. Remarkably, during the second millennium cycles of political integration and disintegration became increasingly correlated between the widely separated Eurasian regions. Liebermans bold thesis is combined with truly encyclopedic scholarship and a breathtaking scope. SP II is a major achievement in comparative world history that will take future researchers years to fully digest. This review essay aims to make a first step in this direction.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Peter Turchin

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