This book includes eleven seminal essays by one of America’s leading authorities on modern Chinese history with an illuminating preface by Prof. Elizabeth Perry of Harvard University. it covers a range of topics from the impact of imperialism to the 1989 protests that led to the Tiananmen massacre. Chapters include an explanation of how China expanded its borders far beyond the Han Chinese heartland and maintained those borders in the transition from empire to nation; how Sun Yat-sen unexpectedly emerged as the Father of the Country; and how a series of unexpected and contingent events brought the empire down in 1911.
Despite conventional representations of a static and unified China, this book proves Chinese society to be diverse and constantly changing—especially after the Communist revolution which was a transformative event in modern Chinese history. Esherick denounces traditional imagery of cultural uniformity, which derives from excessive attention to the unitary state, through chapters that explore the impact of the 1937-45 War of Resistance against Japan, the dramatic wartime transformation of Chinese society in both Communist and Nationalist (Guomindang) areas, and the nature of the new Communist regime in Northwest China.
In his book, Esherick examines both the Marxist-Leninist theory behind Mao’s notion of the “restoration of capitalism,” against which he waged the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, and the political theater of the 1989 protest movement. Throughout the book the contingency of history, the need for careful empirical research, and the important yet limited role of history is highlighted as the key to understanding the present or predicting the future of China.
Joseph W. Esherick is professor emeritus of modern Chinese history at the University of California, San Diego. He is the holder of the Hwei-chih and Julia Hsiu Chair in Chinese Studies. His books include Modern China: The Story of a Revolution, co-authored with Orville Schell; Lost Chance in China: The World War II Despatches of John S. Service; Reform and Revolution in China: The 1911 Revolution in Hunan and Hubei; and The Origins of the Boxer Uprising. His awards include the John K. Fairbank Prize from the American Historical Association, the Joseph Levenson Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, and the 1989 Berkeley Prize from the University of California Press.
This collection of essays are as powerful today as when first published. Esherick offersf careful research addressing key questions in our understanding of China’s revolution and modern Chinese history. A model for students and researchers, these fine essays demonstrate the contribution of interdisciplinary methods to our understanding of modern China.
China in Revolution is a masterful achievement. Not only does it closely examine the most controversial issues in modern Chinese history, it also highlights the many ways in which scholars have hotly debated that history. Esherick’s fascinating arguments rest on two compelling and dynamic assertions: nothing that happened in the tumultuous history of modern China was inevitable, and unexpected twists and turns have been and continue to be the norm.
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