Books

07.26.18

Imperial Twilight

Stephen Platt
Alfred A. Knopf: As China reclaims its position as a world power, Imperial Twilight looks back to tell the story of the country’s last age of ascendance and how it came to an end in the 19th-century Opium War.When Britain launched its first war on China in 1839, pushed into hostilities by profiteering drug merchants and free-trade interests, it sealed the fate of what had long been seen as the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. But internal problems of corruption, popular unrest, and dwindling finances had weakened China far more than was commonly understood, and the war would help set in motion the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty—which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the 20th century. As one of the most potent turning points in the country’s modern history, the Opium War has since come to stand for everything that today’s China seeks to put behind it.In this dramatic, epic story, award-winning historian Stephen Platt sheds new light on the early attempts by Western traders and missionaries to “open” China—traveling mostly in secret beyond Canton, the single port where they were allowed—even as China’s imperial rulers were struggling to manage their country’s decline and Confucian scholars grappled with how to use foreign trade to China’s advantage. The book paints an enduring portrait of an immensely profitable and mostly peaceful meeting of civilizations at Canton over the long term that was destined to be shattered by one of the most shockingly unjust wars in the annals of imperial history. Brimming with a fascinating cast of British, Chinese, and American individuals, this riveting narrative of relations between China and the West has important implications for today’s uncertain and ever-changing political climate.{chop}

Novels from China’s Moral Abyss

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Modern China was built on the nearly thirty ruthless years of Mao’s rule. The country’s elite—the “literati” of educated small landowners who held the empire together at the local level—was brutally eliminated. Almost everyone’s personal life was...

China’s Astounding Religious Revival

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
If there were just one Chinese in the world, he could be the lonely sage contemplating life and nature whom we come across on the misty mountains of Chinese scrolls. If there were two Chinese in the world, a man and a woman, lo, the family system is...

Trump in the China Shop

Gideon Rachman
New York Review of Books
The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House threatens a significant acceleration in the rivalry between the U.S. and China.

How the Communist Party Guided China to Success

New York Times
One of Sebastian Heilmann’s major works is a comprehensive guide to how China is governed, now updated and translated into English as China’s Political System. This is a wide-ranging examination of how the system works—how it guides the economy,...

Viewpoint

09.21.15

A New Book Praises China’s Governance Model, But Overlooks Its Politics

Thomas Kellogg
On August 12, China once again met with man-made tragedy. Massive explosions at a chemical storage warehouse in Tianjin took the lives of 173 people and injured nearly 700, some of them seriously. The owner of the warehouse that blew up, Rui Hai...

‘A Map of Betrayal,’ by Ha Jin

Ben Macintyre
New York Times
Many years ago, the F.B.I. coined an acronym, MICE, to describe the motivations of the spy. This stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego. All spies, it is argued, are drawn into espionage by some combination of these factors.

How China and America See Each Other

Minxin Pei
Foreign Affairs
China scholar Minxin Pei reviews the high-level exchanges published in Nina Hachigian's book “Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations”...

Jittery Nation: Link, Maden, and Pickowicz’s “Restless China”

Megan Shank
Los Angeles Review of Books
Thirteen knowledgeable academics trained in diverse disciplines and based around the world explore disquietude surrounding Chinese values and civic life in clusters of essays on “Legacies,” “A New Electronic Community,” “Values,” and “Global...

China: When the Cats Rule

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
On one level Lao She’s novel is a work of science fiction—a visit to a country of cat-like people on Mars—that lampoons 1930s China. On a deeper level, the prophetic work predicts the terror and violence of the early Communist era’s chaos and...

‘Trouble in the Middle’: How Foreign Companies SHould Confront Corruption in China

Qi Liyan and Josh Chin
WSJ: China Real Time Report
Navigating the significant and sometimes dangerous differences between Western and Chinese business culture is the focus of “Trouble in the Middle,” the very well-timed new book by Steven Feldman, professor of business ethics at Case Western Reserve...