Yale history professor Spence, a noted China expert, and his wife, Chin, who teaches intellectual and cultural history at Yale, have produced a stirring, spectacular political and social chronicle indispensable to understanding modern China. It combines hundreds of photographs--many of them never seen before outside China--with a comprehensive text that traces China's transformation from a largely rural society dominated by local traditions and folk religions to a partly capitalistic, still regimented communist nation. In the authors' opinion, it took a dual blow--Japanese incursions into Chinese territory in the 1930s, plus Mao Zedong's communist insurgency--to undermine Sun Yat-sen's Guomindang movement for national regeneration through education, self-discipline and strong social control. The authors perceptively look at contemporary China, marked by increasing calls for democracy, by environmental crises, by unchecked population growth. Photographs showing executions, decapitations and brutal punishments are quite gruesome, but they are more than counterbalanced by a trove of ineradicable images of daily life and historic events. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000 Release date: 06/01/2000 Genre: Nonfiction
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