breadcrumb

Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth-Century Monk

The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles—poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation—to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools, and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Now, in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. This revealing biography shows a Chinese man, neither an intellectual nor a peasant, trying to reconcile his desire for a bold and activist Chinese nationalism with his own belief in China's cultural and social traditions, especially Buddhism. As it follows Tanxu's extraordinary life, the book also illuminates the pivotal events in China's modern history, showing how one individual experienced the fall of China's last empire, its descent into occupation and civil war, and its eventual birth as modern nation. Indeed, Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare—from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the Boxer Uprising, the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese occupation, and World War II. He and his followers were robbed by river pirates, and waylaid by bandits on the road. Caught in the struggle between nationalist and communist forces, Tanxu finally sought refuge in the British colony of Hong Kong. At the time of his death, at the age of 89, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures. Capturing all this in a magnificent portrait, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.  —Oxford University Press

Topics: 

Books

08.02.16

Creativity Class

Lily Chumley
The last three decades have seen a massive expansion of China’s visual culture industries, from architecture and graphic design to fine art and fashion. New ideologies of creativity and creative practices have reshaped the training of a new generation of art school graduates. Creativity Class is the first book to explore how Chinese art students develop, embody, and promote their own personalities and styles as they move from art school entrance test preparation, to art school, to work in the country’s burgeoning culture industries. Lily Chumley shows the connections between this creative explosion and the Chinese government’s explicit goal of cultivating creative human capital in a new “market socialist” economy where value is produced through innovation.Drawing on years of fieldwork in China’s leading art academies and art test prep schools, Chumley combines ethnography and oral history with analyses of contemporary avant-garde and official art, popular media, and propaganda. Examining the rise of a Chinese artistic vanguard and creative knowledge-based economy, Creativity Class sheds light on an important facet of today’s China. —Princeton University Press{chop}

Books

06.28.16

John Birch

Terry Lautz
John Birch was better known in death than life. Shot and killed by Communists in China in 1945, he posthumously became the namesake for a right-wing organization whose influence is still visible in today’s Tea Party. This is the remarkable story of who he actually was: an American missionary-turned-soldier who wanted to save China, but instead became a victim. Terry Lautz, a longtime scholar of U.S.-China relations, has investigated archives, spoken with three of Birch’s brothers, found letters written to the women he loved, and visited sites in China where he lived and died. The result, John Birch: A Life, is the first authoritative biography of this fascinating figure whose name was appropriated for a political cause.Raised as a Baptist fundamentalist, Birch became a missionary to China prior to America’s entry into the Second World War. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for the U.S. Army in China, served with Claire Chennault, Commander of the famed Flying Tigers, and operated behind enemy lines as an intelligence officer. He planned to resume his missionary work after the war, but was killed in a dispute with Communist troops just days after Japan’s surrender. During the heyday of the Cold War in the 1950s, Robert Welch, a retired businessman from Boston, chose Birch as the figurehead for the John Birch Society, believing that his death was evidence of conspiracy at the highest levels of government. The Birch Society became one of the most polarizing organizations of its time, and the name of John Birch became synonymous with right-wing extremism.Cutting through the layers of mythology surrounding Birch, Lautz deftly presents his life and his afterlife, placing him not only in the context of anti-communism but in the longstanding American quest to shape China’s destiny. —Oxford University Press{chop}

Books

06.22.16

Tibetan Environmentalists in China

Liu Jianqiang
This book weaves together the life stories of five extraordinary contemporary Tibetans involved in environmental protection (as well as a host of secondary characters): Tashi Dorje, a well-known and celebrated environmentalist; Karma Samdrup, a philanthropist, businessman, and environmentalist; Rinchen Samdrup, Karma’s brother, another extraordinary environmentalist; Gendun, a painter, historian, and researcher from Amdo; and Musuo, a Tibetan from the Dechin area of northwest Yunnan who founded the Khawakarpo Culture Society.In the politically fraught and ever-worsening situation for Tibetans within China today, it is often said that the only possible path for a better solution will be through a change in the way that the majority Chinese society thinks about and understands Tibetans, their aspirations, histories, and desires. This book provides the first such account by drawing readers in with beautiful narrative prose and fascinating stories, and then using their attention to demystify Tibetans, cultivating in the reader a sense of empathy as well as facts upon which to rebuild an intercultural understanding. It is the first work that seriously aims to let the Chinese public understand Tibetans as both products of an admirable culture and as complex individuals negotiating religious ideals, economic change, and sociopolitical constraints. In short it opens up a whole new way of understanding Tibet. —Rowman & Littlefield/Lexington Books {chop}