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Wealth and Power: China's Long March to…

Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century

by Orville Schell

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Vignettes of a selection of 19 and 20C men (and one woman) who have transformed China in its search for global respect (and wealth and power, of course...which it seems to be how China thinks it will gain global respect). All the usual suspects are here -- Mao, Jiang Zemin, Chiang Kaishek, Sun Yatsen but with some surprise personalities and interesting details. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
I'm surprised this book isn't better known, as it's a fantastic introduction to the development of China, both politically and philosophically, in the past 200 years. Strongly recommended for anyone who wants to better understand the roots of the modern Chinese miracle. ( )
  Audacity88 | Jan 31, 2016 |
Telling the history of China through the lives and ideas of several people key to its history. Fascinating and helpful
1 vote revliz | Oct 7, 2015 |
Must be first rate, definitive study/overview of China's coming back onto the world stage and the challenges that lie in that for the people of China as well as all the people of the world. The consensus model versus the authoritatian model. Just listened to an outstanding, open hearted prestetation of Schell to the Commonwealth Club, March 21, 2014. ( )
  clifforddham | Mar 22, 2014 |
This is an enlightening and engrossing book, focussed on key issues. In the past, why was it so hard for China to come to terms with modernity? In the present, why has acceptance finally come, under a post-Communist Communist leadership? And for the future, where will the ideas behind China's rise lead China -- and the rest of us? It is a book about this history of ideas and culture over the past few centuries, not a political history, but it casts a lot of light on past and present political developments.

Mssrs. Schell and Delury examine the process of intellectual and ideological evolution by looking at the lives and thoughts of eleven Chinese political figures, from Wei Yuan (who called for reform in the early 19th century), through Chiang and Mao, up to Deng and Zhu Rongi. In the process, they remind the reader of what happened as a weakening China was exposed to a rising West, and of the grim political history of the past hundred years.

They arrive at two key points, I think. First, China's long period of weakness vs. the West (and Japan) left a burning sense of shame and of resentment, which could only be assuaged by besting the West at its own game. This has produced a powerful nationalism which seems deeply imbued with anti-foreign feeling as a defining element in what it is to be Chinese. Second, the authors seem to me to argue that the only way that China could truly advance into the modern world was to break with traditional Chinese culture, and the only way of achieving that breakage was though massive destruction. That, I think, is what they mean when they attribute "creative destruction" to Mao -- a term of description, not approval.

In any event, I have read a lot about China over the years, and this is one of the best -- and most enlightening -- books that I have read on the topic. Moreover, it is enjoyable to read! ( )
1 vote annbury | Dec 5, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679643478, Hardcover)

Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation—culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?
Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists, and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead-up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West. It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet such titans of Chinese history as the Empress Dowager Cixi, public intellectuals Feng Guifen, Liang Qichao, and Chen Duxiu, Nationalist stalwarts Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and Communist Party leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhu Rongji.
The common goal that unites all of these disparate figures is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, “wealth and power.” This abiding quest for a restoration of national greatness in the face of a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the Great Powers came to define the modern Chinese character. It’s what drove both Mao and Deng to embark on root-and-branch transformations of Chinese society, first by means of Marxism-Leninism, then by authoritarian capitalism. And this determined quest remains the key to understanding many of China’s actions today.
By unwrapping the intellectual antecedents of today’s resurgent China, Orville Schell and John Delury supply much-needed insight into the country’s tortured progression from nineteenth-century decline to twenty-first-century boom. By looking backward into the past to understand forces at work for hundreds of years, they help us understand China today and the future that this singular country is helping shape for all of us.
Advance praise for Wealth and Power
Wealth and Power offers everything readers might expect from its two eminent authors. It is both sweeping and specific, authoritative and lively, sympathetic and critical, offering the perspective of both the hedgehog and the fox. The hardest challenge in writing about China, or finding things to read about it, is perceiving significant patterns while remaining aware of the chaos and contradictions. Orville Schell and John Delury meet that challenge in exemplary form. I only wish that they'd written the book years ago, so that (along with other readers) I could have been taking advantage of its insights all along.”—James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic
“Orville Schell and John Delury have delivered a brilliantly original and essential book: the road map to China’s quest for national salvation. This is a story of ideas and the vibrant figures who shaped them: rebels, thinkers, and rivals, united by the quest for reinvention. It is required reading for anyone seeking to understand China’s motives and the future of global competition, and is, quite simply, a pleasure to read. Vivid, literate, and brimming with insights, Wealth and Power deserves to become a classic.”—Evan Osnos, China correspondent, The New Yorker

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:25 -0400)

"Through a series of ... portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today's foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country's rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal. How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, civil war, and revolution, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation--culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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