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Woodside feels almost emotional on loss of such a system from three Mandarinates while the Western world is adopting the same today.

Plot: Woodside had organized the book into four chapters emphasizing different aspects of his thinking. The chapter one ‘ questioning Mandarins’ (17-37) is devoted to Introduction of three mandarinates, their civil services examination which were equally instructive in all the three. The author also points out fears for refeudalization and anxiety of transition. Language used was of administrative utility rather than political language. Chapter 2 (38-55) “Meritocracy’s Underworld’ focuses on how Mandarinates anticipated hazards that are now in the western experience. These hazards were instability of administrative power based solely on written examination. Post-feudal assertion of elite to power and that bureaucratic language and approach might lack mass appeal. In the chapter 3 (56-76), entitled ‘Administrative welfare dreams’, Woodside has elaborated social reforms programs pursued by the three Mandarinates. These were the goals like alleviation of poverty and equalization of landholdings. But making poverty an administrative concern, Woodside feared it could ‘decontextualize’ the administrative goal or was a drift from actual purpose of bureaucracy (21). The chapter 4 (77-106), ‘Mandarin Management Theorists’, highlights skepticism about bureaucracy regarding compulsory family program in China, Vietnam. Though, Woodside explains, it was also the revival of mandarinism, albeit slow, in eastern Asia along transnational and cross-cultural lines.

Woodside’s book also gives an introduction and a conclusion to his work.


Woodside feels that modern may be separate from landmarks of growth viz. Industrialization and Capitalism. He was referring to the mandarinate rulers who separate from hereditary social claims, developed meritocratic civil services through examinations. They trained and tested people to be politically useful rather than taking them as they are. The talent search in this way began as early as Tang Dynasty in China, which had given Chinese government positions to people after scrutiny of candidates for their talent. They had huge examination sites that could house thousands of candidates. Woodside writes that by 1400, the system of examination was highly transparent. The candidates’ answers passed through Collection, registration, collating, recording officers to the readers. The sequence took care to conceal examinee’s name, copied his answers in other person’s handwriting and that more than one examiner evaluated the answer sheets. To further improve the thought process and practical ability, the examiner and examinee both were limited by word counts to their questions and answers respectively (1-3, 17-22).

Though the word ‘modern’ emerged for Charlemagne rule but Woodside feels that Tang Dynasty was more modern in political management. Similarly he refers Berman (1983) stating that western legal system modernization began with the papal revolution, much before capitalism and industrialization (4).

However the Chinese exams had monoculture linguistically and Manchu and Mongols nobles’ ideas needed to be translated. While the Czech, Croat and Magyar need not Germanize linguistically (6).

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