IN THE REVIEW

Sitting on Top of the World

Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi

by Jonathan D. Spence
Remoteness is often a condition of status and an attitude cultivated by parties to inequality. Chinese peasants, for more than twenty centuries subjects not citizens of the realm, were being literal when they said, “Heaven is high and the emperor far away.” Their world was circumscribed by the village pump …