cover image The Search for Modern China

The Search for Modern China

Jonathan D. Spence. W. W. Norton & Company, $32.95 (876pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02708-2

Spence ( The Question of Hu ) argues that China's modernization strategies can't work unless the people are allowed to participate in political decision-making. A splendid achievement, this sweeping 1088-page epic chronicle compresses four centuries of political and social change into a sharply observant narrative. Spence offers contemporary perspectives on the British 19th-century drive to get the Chinese masses addicted to opium, Chiang Kai-Shek's secret police apparatus and proto-fascist supporters, Japan's ruthless occupation during WW II, the Mao bloodbath known as the ``Cultural Revolution'' and the legacy of China's bureaucratic, authoritarian Ming and Qing dynasties. Photos. 50,000 printing; BOMC, QPB and History Book Club selections; author tour. (May)