Garbage In, Garbage Out: Challenges of Model Building in Global History, A Military Historical Perspective


  • Tonio Andrade Emory University Department of History



Military History, The Military Revolution, The Rise of the West, The Great Divergence, The Revisionist Model


This paper examines two prominent recent attempts to explain the phenomenon of the “rise of the West,” Ian Morris’s model of “Social Development” and Philipp Hoffman’s model of military power (Morris 2010, Morris 2013, Hoffman 2012, Hoffman 2015). Whereas most recent scholarship on the rise of the West has focused on economics, Morris and Hoffman widen the scope of comparison to other areas, in particular focusing on the measurement and explanation of divergences in military effectiveness. By drawing on recent work in China’s military history, the author shows that both models – but particularly that of Morris – are inadequate, falling back on older narratives of Western military superiority that have been challenged or disproven by recent scholarship in global military history. The article suggests, however, that the two models – and especially that of Hoffman – do raise significant new questions for future research, and it concludes by noting that what social scientists need more than new models at present is a closer attention to the rapid and ever increasing proliferation of scholarship in non-Western countries, and in particular that of the Sinophone world.

Author Biography

Tonio Andrade, Emory University Department of History

Tonio Andrade’s books include The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History (2016), Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West (2011), and How Taiwan became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century (2008). His articles have appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, The Journal of World History, Late Imperial China, Itinerario, The Journal of Chinese Military History, The Journal of Medieval Military History, The Journal of Early Modern History, and other journals. He is a professor of history at Emory University, and he and his family live in Decatur, Georgia.






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