Edge of Empires
John M. Carroll Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress DS796.H757C38 2005 | Dewey Decimal 951.2504
In Edge of Empires, Carroll situates Hong Kong squarely within the framework of both Chinese and British colonial history, while exploring larger questions about the meaning and implications of colonialism in modern history.
One of the most momentous stories of the last century is China's rise from a self-satisfied, anti-modern, decaying society into a global power that promises to one day rival the United States. Chiang Kai-shek, an autocratic, larger-than-life figure, dominates this story. Drawing heavily on Chinese sources including Chiang's diaries, The Generalissimo provides the most lively, sweeping, and objective biography yet of a man whose length of uninterrupted, active engagement at the highest levels in the march of history is excelled by few, if any, in modern history.
The Generalissimo's Son
Jay TAYLOR Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress DS799.82.C437T39 2000 | Dewey Decimal 951.24905092
Brett Sheehan Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress HC427.8.S45 2015 | Dewey Decimal 338.092251
This study of the evolution of Chinese capitalism chronicles the Song family of North China under five successive authoritarian governments. Brett Sheehan shows both foreign and Chinese influences on private business, which, although closely linked to the state, was neither a handmaiden to authoritarianism nor a natural ally of democracy.
“Chronicles reforms, revolutions, and wars through the lens of institutions, often rebutting Western impressions…[And] warns against thinking of China’s economic success as proof of a unique path without contextualizing it in historical specifics.” —New Yorker
“This thoughtful, probing interpretation is a worthy successor to the famous histories of Fairbank and Spence and will be read by all students and scholars of modern China.” —William C. Kirby, coauthor of Can China Lead?
It is tempting to attribute the rise of China’s to recent changes in political leadership and economic policy. But China has had a long history of creative adaptation and it would be a mistake to think that its current trajectory began with Deng Xiaoping. In the mid-eighteenth century, when the Qing Empire reached the height of its power, China dominated a third of the world’s population. Then, as the Opium Wars threatened the nation’s sovereignty and the Taiping Rebellion ripped the country apart, China found itself verging on free fall. In the twentieth century China managed a surprising recovery, rapidly undergoing profound economic and social change, buttressed by technological progress. A dynamic story of crisis and recovery, failures and triumphs, Making China Modern explores the versatility and resourcefulness that has guaranteed China’s survival in the past, and is now fueling its future.
Throughout this lively and concise historical account of Mao Zedong’s life and thought, Rebecca E. Karl places the revolutionary leader’s personal experiences, social visions and theory, military strategies, and developmental and foreign policies in a dynamic narrative of the Chinese revolution. She situates Mao and the revolution in a global setting informed by imperialism, decolonization, and third worldism, and discusses worldwide trends in politics, the economy, military power, and territorial sovereignty. Karl begins with Mao’s early life in a small village in Hunan province, documenting his relationships with his parents, passion for education, and political awakening during the fall of the Qing dynasty in late 1911. She traces his transition from liberal to Communist over the course of the next decade, his early critiques of the subjugation of women, and the gathering force of the May 4th movement for reform and radical change. Describing Mao’s rise to power, she delves into the dynamics of Communist organizing in an overwhelmingly agrarian society, and Mao’s confrontations with Chiang Kaishek and other nationalist conservatives. She also considers his marriages and romantic liaisons and their relation to Mao as the revolutionary founder of Communism in China. After analyzing Mao’s stormy tenure as chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Karl concludes by examining his legacy in China from his death in 1976 through the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Discussions of China’s early twentieth-century modernization efforts tend to focus almost exclusively on cities, and the changes, both cultural and industrial, seen there. As a result, the communist peasant revolution appears as a decisive historical break. Kate Merkel-Hess corrects that misconception by demonstrating how crucial the countryside was for reformers in China long before the success of the communist revolution.
In The Rural Modern, Merkel-Hess shows that Chinese reformers and intellectuals created an idea of modernity that was not simply about what was foreign and new, as in Shanghai and other cities, but instead captured the Chinese people’s desire for social and political change rooted in rural traditions and institutions. She traces efforts to remake village education, economics, and politics, analyzing how these efforts contributed to a new, inclusive vision of rural Chinese life. Merkel-Hess argues that as China sought to redefine itself, such rural reform efforts played a major role, and tensions that emerged between rural and urban ways deeply informed social relations, government policies, and subsequent efforts to create a modern nation during the communist period.
Economic modernity is so closely associated with nationhood that it is impossible to imagine a modern state without an equally modern economy. Even so, most people would have difficulty defining a modern economy and its connection to nationhood. In Saving the Nation, Margherita Zanasi explores this connection by examining the first nation-building attempt in China after the fall of the empire in 1911.
Challenging the assumption that nations are products of technological and socioeconomic forces, Zanasi argues that it was notions of what constituted a modern nation that led the Nationalist nation-builders to shape China’s institutions and economy. In their reform effort, they confronted several questions: What characterized a modern economy? What role would a modern economy play in the overall nation-building effort? And how could China pursue economic modernization while maintaining its distinctive identity? Zanasi expertly shows how these questions were negotiated and contested within the Nationalist Party. Silenced in the Mao years, these dilemmas are reemerging today as a new leadership once again redefines the economic foundation of the nation.
A suicide scandal in Shanghai reveals the social fault lines of democratic visions in China’s troubled Republic in the early 1920s.
On September 8, 1922, the body of Xi Shangzhen was found hanging in the Shanghai newspaper office where she worked. Although her death took place outside of Chinese jurisdiction, her US–educated employer, the social activist Tang Jiezhi, was kidnapped by Chinese authorities and put on trial. As scandal rocked the city, novelists, filmmakers, suffragists, reformers, and even a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party seized upon the case as emblematic of deeper social problems. Xi’s family claimed that Tang had pressured her to be his concubine; his conviction instead for financial fraud only stirred further controversy.
The creation of a republic ten years earlier had unleashed a powerful vision of popular sovereignty and a view of citizenship founded upon science, equality, and family reform. But, Bryna Goodman shows, after the suppression of the first Chinese parliament, efforts at urban liberal democracy dissolved in a flash of speculative finance and the suicide of an educated, working “new woman.” In yet another blow, Tang’s trial exposed the frailty of legal mechanisms in a political landscape fragmented by warlords and enclaves of foreign colonial rule.
The Suicide of Miss Xi opens a window onto how urban Chinese in the first part of the twentieth century navigated China’s early passage through democratic populism, in an ill-fated moment of possibility between empire and party dictatorship. Xi Shangzhen became a symbol of the failures of the Chinese Republic as well as the broken promises of citizen’s rights, gender equality, and financial prosperity betokened by liberal democracy and capitalism.