Roderick MacFarquhar (1930-2019) was Director of the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University and the Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science.

His publications include The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals (Praeger, 1966); The Sino-Soviet Dispute (coauthored with G.F. Hudson and Richard Lowenthal, Praeger, 1961); China under Mao: Politics Takes Command (M.I.T. Press, 1966); Sino-American Relations, 1949-1971 (Praeger, 1972); The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward (edited, Harvard University Press, 1989); the final two volumes of the Cambridge History of China (edited with John K. Fairbank, Cambridge University Press, 1987); The Politics of China: The Eras of Mao and Deng 2nd Edition (Cambridge University Press, 1997); a trilogy, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution (Columbia University Press); and Mao’s Last Revolution (coauthored with Michael Schoenhals, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006).

MacFarquhar was the Founding Editor of The China Quarterly and was a fellow at Columbia University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Royal Institute for International Affairs. In previous personae, he was a journalist, a TV commentator, and a Member of British Parliament.

Last Updated: October 28, 2019



Is Xi Jinping’s Fight Against Corruption For Real?

Roderick MacFarquhar, Winston Lord & more
Roderick MacFarquhar:Xi Jinping’s overriding aim is the preservation of Communist party rule in China, as he made clear in speeches shortly after his elevation to be China’s senior leader.  Like his predecessors, he is obsessed with the...

The ‘Breaking of an Honorable Career’

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
1.In the 1950s, the late John King Fairbank, the dean of modern China studies at Harvard, used to tell us graduate students a joke about the allegation that a group of red-leaning foreign service officers and academics—the four Johns—had “lost”...

Who Was Mao Zedong?

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
In Kashgar’s largest bazaar a few years ago, I spotted a pencil holder sporting an iconic Cultural Revolution image: Mao Zedong and Marshal Lin Biao smiling together. But Mao’s personally chosen heir apparent had been a nonperson since 1971, when he...

The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had...

Mission to Mao

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
“This was the week that changed the world” was Richard Nixon’s summing up at the end of his trip to China in February 1972.1 The hyperbole was justified, for this visit to China by an American president was a turning point in the cold war. Hitherto...

Demolition Man

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
Deng Xiaoping was eulogized by his colleagues as the “chief architect” of China’s reform program and its opening to the outside world.1 This was misleading. Deng was no master builder. Unlike his patron, Mao Zedong, and fortunately for his...

Deng’s Last Campaign

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
China had its own form of grueling political campaign this year, which ended when the Fourteenth Congress of the Communist Party (CCP) took place in October. There, too, the issue was “change” and the main concern the economy. But in China the...

John King Fairbank (1907–1991)

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
John Fairbank, who died on September 14 at the age of eighty-four, read virtually all serious Western works on China. Reviewing them, principally for The New York Review in the last several years, was for him one way of keeping abreast of China...

The Anatomy of Collapse

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
In Moscow, 1991, as in Beijing in 1989, eight hard liners made a last-ditch stand to preserve communism. Yet in both cases, the Communist party was left on the sidelines and no appeal was made for support in the name of Communist doctrine. Politics...

The End of the Chinese Revolution

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
When Deng Xiaoping suppressed the Beijing Spring last month, he thought he was putting down a new Cultural Revolution. Pirated notes from a Party meeting in late April quoted him as telling his colleagues:This is not an ordinary student movement. It...

Passing the Baton in Beijing

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
Succession has become an omnipresent problem not only in China but throughout Asia. Long-lasting regimes under aging rulers are entering their twilight zone in North Korea, Burma, and Indonesia, and face a period of weakness and uncertainty, for the...

The End of the Long March

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
In Peking last September, China’s supreme leader, Deng Xiaoping, pensioned off the surviving generals of the Long March. Fifty years after their epic exploit, these old soldiers finally agreed to fade away. Deng must hope that the legend has now...