My favorite books about China

The Secret Life of Chairman Mao. 
The only true book about Mao I’ve ever read.   First hand account.  Tells not only about the Man himself, but about the sycophants he surrounded himself with.  Yes, there is some juicy gossip.

Wild Swans…Jung Chang
I kind of felt this was a self serving book.  But the importance of the book is it gives good background to China after the war up through when she left.  Right or wrong, I've deliberately not read her book on Mao because quite frankly, she wasn't there.

The Longest Winter
Fantastic book!  The last book David Halberstam wrote.   A book about America’s involvement in the Korean War.  Very readable.  One theme(not the only one)of the book that I was most moved with is how 
simple, ordinary civilians did simply amazing things. 

Spence…The Search for Modern China
The first book about China I tried to pore through.  Self explanatory.

Life and Death in Shanghai….Nien Cheng
I think this is the first of many, many books to come out about life in China under Mao.  One learns here how the concept of guanxi came about.  It's a very informative look at how people lived under fear and suspicion.

Stilwell and the American Experience in China….(and her other book)

Barbara Tuchman wrote two seminal masterpieces.  This and the other one the Guns of August.   Both books are a must read in my opinion.  The latter is the history of Europe up to and somewhat into WW1.   Fascinating.   The former is about Stilwell and his rise in China.  His ascendancy under Marshall, and his downfall due to Chiang Kai Shek and his wife.    Stilwell, like so many others, was simply outplayed by a charming persona.    But the victim was a willing accomplice.

China Hands…..James Lilley

Tells the story of America’s most famous China Hand of the post John Davies era.  Interesting insight into how America thought in the 50’s as well.   Japan and East Asia was pure exotica than. 

The Best and the Brightest…indirectly so

Halbertam’s masterpiece on Vietnam.   A long, thorough read.  Are you up to it?  Two thirds the way through they dissect the origins of the Vietnam War as it relates to China.  John Davies gives an extremely succinct view of why the Vietnamese war is a war of Nationalism rather than of Communism.  Of course America was too damn ignorant to listen to our own experts.  It’s rarely, if ever I feel that we as a nation don’t have a grip on things.  Rather, it’s that our leadership class refuses to take the time and pinpoint those that do.


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