Monday, August 1, 2011

On China, by Henry Kissinger

It would be an understatement to say that this was an amazing work written by the premier statesman involved in the development of Chinese and American diplomacy. "On China" is a personal account of Kissinger's many visits to China and his dealings with several generations of Chinese leaders.

Anyone seeking a clearer understanding of China and why things are the way they are needs to read this book. I will say that there are a few things I was disappointed with, he barely mentioned Sun Yat-sen and the impact he had on transitioning China from a dynastic Imperial system. The work is so focused on the diplomatic side of things he ignores any real depth concerning who the Gang of Four were and Zhou Enlai's relationship with Mao Zedong (Mao did not attend Zhou's funeral even, and Kissinger fails even to mention that there was a split).

I was always a huge admirer of Deng Xiaoping, I remember when he died. Deng Xiaoping was the leader of China when I was born, and an amazing man. Reading these behind the scenes snapshots of Deng Xiaoping altered my perception permanently, I now admire him even more, and finally understand the why's behind some of his less-than-praiseworthy moments.

I highly recommend this book, especially to any of my students representing China this year. Five out of Five stars, despite my few criticisms.

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