Wealth and Power

Wealth and Power

China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century

Book - 2013
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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.
"Superb . . . beautifully written and neatly structured." -- Financial Times
"[An] engaging narrative of the intellectual and cultural origins of China's modern rise." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Informative and insightful . . . a must-read for anyone with an interest in the world's fastest-rising superpower." -- Slate
"It does a better job than most other books of answering a basic question the rest of the world naturally asks about China's recent rise: What does China want ?" -- The Atlantic
"The portraits are beautifully written and bring to life not only their subjects but also the mood and intellectual debates of the times in which they lived." -- Foreign Affairs
"Excellent and erudite . . . [The authors] combine scholarly learning with a reportorial appreciation of colorful, revealing details." -- The National Interest
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, 2013, ©2013.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780679643470
Branch Call Number: 951. 050922 SCH
Characteristics: 478 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Delury, John - Author


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Feb 09, 2017

Its rather awkward to rate this book: from a 'serious history' point of view, its okay; from a 'biographical' point of view, its again only okay. But, just like those Penguin editions of Plutarch, one gets a sense of great (or at least interesting) lives and the times they lived in, over a long span - in the case of this book, about two hundred tumultuous years. This way of writing history is not common, but it does effectively impart to the reader a comprehension of larger spans of historical time, large scale social changes, and accidents, both good and bad, and thereby allow the reader to re-see their own society and their place it from different dimensions from what one may customarily view it from. And that is what makes it an excellent book.

Feb 08, 2016

An overarching theme of this book is China's long struggle to overcome its nearly two centuries of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers. Justifiably proud of an ancient and highly accomplished culture, China has been punished by a succession of invading armies, colonized by imperialist aggressors, exploited by foreign business interests, offended by proselytising missionaries. All of which has been so difficult for China to tolerate that despite their starkly conflicting political approaches, a whole succession of governments and revolutionary movements have all shared a determination to set China on a course toward self-determination, ascendancy and prosperity.
The question that remains unanswered is whether the latest regime, an incongruous marriage of so-called "communist" one-party rule and unbridled capitalist oligarchy shall in the end truly overcome China's sad history and achieve true stability in addition to "Wealth and Power". Indeed, the writers have not even succeeded in determining how much of China's newfound success is real and how much is grandiose stage decoration concealing fraudulent and failed business schemes. There is no mention of China's complete lack of business transparency. The current state of the millions of agrarian and urban poor is hardly touched upon, nor do they address the appalling degree of state censorship, abuse of minorities, "disappearances" of opponents, mock trials and party corruption at all levels. It seems to me that the writers have been mesmerized by ostentatious sudden wealth and feats of engineering.

Feb 09, 2015

This book explains in well-documented detail how China graduated from its position of foreign exploitation, ignorance and poverty to its status as one of the major world economic and military powers. Chinese thinkers knew since the Boxer Rebellion that China needed to change to enter the modern world or cease to be a country altogether. It took more than a century and how and what emerged was unimaginable then. Highly recommended reading.

peterbaileybc Dec 02, 2013

Essential reading for today's global leaders and followers.

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