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Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History (review)

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History (review) 338 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 RebeccaE.Karl.Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History.Durham,NC:DukeUniversityPress,2010.xii,200pp. Paperback$21.95,isbn978-0-8223-4795-8. RebeccaE.Karlhaswrittenarich,deeplyanalytical,yethighlyaccessibleaccount ofMaoZedong,whohasdefiedbothdeificationanddemonizationandremained relevanttohistoriansandthegeneralreadingpublic.Whilebreakingnonew ground,KarltakesafreshapproachtoexplainingMao.ShecontextualizesMao andMaoismininternationalupheavalsofthelatenineteenthcenturyintothe twentiethcentury,whichinteractedwithChina'sownsearchforitsplaceinthe changingworld.ThisnewassessmentofMaocontainstwohundredpages,divided intotenchapters.Thenarrativefollowsachronologicalorder,startingwiththe birthofMaoin1893andendingwith"The2008BeijingOlympicsand Beyond"--thelastsectionheadinginthelastchapterofthebook. AsKarlherselfadmits,thisbookisforgeneralreadersmorethanforspecialists.Theinspirationbehindwritingthebookcamefromherencounterswith peopleovertheyearswhoare"genuinelyinterestedbutperhapsnotveryknowledgeableaboutChina"(China Beat,interviewwithJeffWasserstrom,June10, 2010).Indicationsthatitisnotwrittenforspecialistsincludespartanusageof footnotesandaveryfocusedyetlimitedbibliography.Asaresult,hernarrative readssmoothly,withoutmuchinterruptionfromfootnotes.Eachofthetenchaptersisfurtherdividedintosections,withheadingsthatclearlysignifythefocusof thefollowingcontent.Infact,whilethechaptertitlesgenerallyindicateaperiodin historyunderreview,suchas"GreatLeapandRestoration,1958­1965"ofchapter7, thesectionheadingsarechosentocaptureaspecificmomentofthatperiod.For example,inthechapter"TheCulturalRevolution:PoliticsinCommand,1966­ 1969,"thesectionheadingsguidethereaderthroughseveralkeymomentsduring thosechaoticyears--"ThePrelude:HaiRui,"markingthebeginningofthegatheringofclouds,and"TheNinthNationalCongressoftheChineseCommunist Party,"signifyingtheendofthemostluan(disorderlyandlawless)periodinthe CulturalRevolution. Aimingatabroaderreadingpublic,theauthordoesnotscaledownher analyticalrigorandreduceMaotoeitherthesimplecaricatureofatyrannical monsteroraniconiccharismaticleader.HerpurposeistoexamineandcomprehendMaoinavolatileandoftenhostileenvironment.MaoandMaoismcanonly beunderstoodinthehistoricalmomentinChinaandbeyondthatproducedMao thepersonandMaoismthephilosophy.Thebibliographyreflectsthiseffortofthe author.Itmaynotimpressaspecialistatfirstglance,butacarefulreadercan discernthatallthebooksinthebibliographyaredirectlyrelevanttotheauthoras shesuccessfullyinterweavesMao'slife,character,andideologywiththeimmediate andtranscendentalenvironmentthattumbledandforgedhim. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 339 Itis,therefore,imperativetobringthereadertotheworldintowhichMao wasborn.Thebookopenswiththesection"FreeTrade,Opium,Tea,andSilver," clearlyatimewhenChinawasfastdisintegratinginthefaceofWesternintrusion andimposition.Itwasthebeginningofthe"centuryofhumiliation,"whichMao andmanypeopleofhisgenerationdevotedtheirlivestoending.Againstthis backdrop,MaowouldemergeastheleaderwhoultimatelyfoundedanindependentChinain1949,afterdecadesofstruggleagainsthisenemies,bothforeignand domestic,includingmanymembersfromwithinhisownparty. AsforMao'schildhoodandearlyadulthood,Karldoesnotoffermuchnew materialorfreshviewpoints.Maolefthomewhenhewassixteen,tooyoungand tooinexperiencedtohaveafirmideology.Atthesametime,Karlpointsoutthat hisruralrootswouldshapehispersonalhabitsthathewouldpurposefullymaintain"asanexpressionofpoliticalpurity"(p.8).Bytheendofchapter2,whenMao wastwenty-eightyearsofage,hehadtransformedfromaliberaltoaBolshevik Communist.Thistransformationtookplaceagainstafragmentedintellectual sceneinChinaintheearly1920s.DisillusionedwithhisyouthfulsearchforsolutionstoChina'sproblemsinanarchismandliberalism,MaoembracedtheBolsheviktotalrevolutionby1921.Hewouldbeoneofthetwelvedelegatesthatmetand officiallyfoundedtheChineseCommunistPartyinShanghai."TheformalfoundingoftheCCP[ChineseCommunistParty]wasatotallyunremarkableevent" (p. 18),butitwasaremarkablemilestoneinMao'slifeandinChina'sdestiny. Thenextthreechapterscontinuefrom1921through1949.Thesedecades wouldwitnessMao'stransformationfromadedicatedbutordinaryCommunist PartymembertothesupremeleaderoftheParty.Furthermore,hewouldalso createanideologynamedafterhim--"MaoZedongthought"--andacquirea statusnottobechallengedwithoutsevereandadverseconsequencesforthosewho daredtoconfronthispolicies.Thefirstshiftinhiscommitmentoccurredwhenhe was"exhausted,dispirited,andreadytotakeabreak"(p.27)inlate1924after followingtheParty'sstrategyofcollaboratingwiththeNationalistsandagitatingin urbanareaswithoutmuchsuccess.AsChinastruggledtoreunifyitself,thetwo majorpoliticalpartiesfoundthemselvesfurtherapartpoliticallyandideologically. Maowentthroughbeinganeffectiveanddedicatedlabororganizer,tobeing disillusioned;andbytheendof1924,hewasreadytotakeabreakfromParty work.InruralHunan,Maorediscoveredhisrevolutionaryinspiration,andfrom thistimeonward,Maowascommittedtomobilizingthepeasantryforthetriumph oftheChineseCommunistRevolution. BecauseofChiangKai-shek's"whiteterror,"theCommunistswereforcedto hideundergroundandtoescapefromthecities.ThecircumstanceallowedMaoto practicehisstrategyinthecountry.JinggangshanofferedMaotimeandspacefor tyingtogethertheelementsthatwouldsecurethefinalvictoryoftheCCPintwo decades--thegununderthecommandofthePartywhosestrengthwasfirmly basedonthemassesofthepeasantry.AlthoughMaoemergedasfirstamongthe 340 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 leadersoftheCommunistPartyduringtheLongMarch,heandhisfollowershad towaituntiltheysafelyarrivedinYenanforMaotocompletehistransformation, elaborateMaothought,andsecurehisleadershipoftheCCPand,soon,ofthe wholeofChinauntilhisdeath. Chapters6and7describetheMaoisterabeforetheCulturalRevolution.Ifhe committedthefirstpartofhislifetothemakingoftheRevolution,Maowould devotethelatterhalfofhislifetosustainingthespiritofthatRevolution.The authormakesagoodpointthat,inMao'smind,theCCP'svictoryoverthewhole ofChinadidnotmeantheendoftheRevolution;rather,itwas"partofdeepening thetransformationofthecreatingtheconditionsforequalityinsociety"(p.84). KarlidentifiestheenemyofMao'scontinuousandpermanentrevolution--Party bureaucracy.MaowouldtirelesslylaunchmassivecampaignsagainsttheParty, whichhehelpedestablishandstrengthen.NowthattheCCPruledoverChina, MaowouldgototheextentofdissolvingthePartyifhebelievedthatitbetrayed hisvisionofempoweringtheChinesepeopleintheirattempttochangetheir destiny.ThesechaptersprepareusfortheviolentbreakupbetweenMaoandhis formercomrades,whichwouldcomeintheformoftheCulturalRevolution. TheCulturalRevolutiontakesupthenexttwochapters.DefiningtheCultural Revolutioninthefirstsectionofchapter8,Karlconfrontsseveralexistingviewpoints.ShearguesthatMaodidnotwanttoseizestatepower;hewantedtouse statepowerinwagingtheRevolution.Shestatesthatitwasnotfearofdeathor desireforpersonalimmortalitythatpushedhimtolaunchtheCulturalRevolution;rather,itwashisconcernaboutthelongevityoftheChineseCommunist Revolution.KarlthinksthattheCulturalRevolutionwasnotanexpressionof religiosity,oramovementfollowedblindlybyapeoplewhoweretyrannizedinto it.Chaoticandmaddening,ithadloftygoals,oneofwhichwastoreconnect culturetorevolution,somethinginwhichMaopassionatelybelieved.ForMao,the wholepointoftheRevolutionwastocreatetheconditionsforthemassestoseek transformationoftheirlivesbythemselves(p.118). Inchapter9,theChineseCulturalRevolutionisnarratedagainsttheglobal upheavalscausedbybothanticolonialnationalisminAsia,Africa,andLatin America,andbydomesticradicalismallacrosstheworld.Mao'sCulturalRevolution,thoughhavinglostitsinitialtotallawlessness,racedforward,challengingthe existingnationalandinternationalordersandinspiringrevolutionsoutsideChina. However,intheend,theRevolutiondidnotfulfillitspotentialoftransforming Chinaandtheworld.Instead,Mao,hisbodyfailingfast,receivedNixoninBeijing, signalingtheendofthatdream. Theyear1976bodedillforthedyingleader.Therevolutionaryveteranswere passingawayinsuccession,startingwithZhouEnlaiinJanuary,thenDongBiwu inApril,andZhuDeinJuly.TherewasmassiveunrestthateruptedinApril, followedbytheTangshanearthquake,ahorrendousnaturaldisaster.DidMao Reviews 341 knowallthiswashappeningaroundhim?"Maolaydyinganddidnotwitnessthe finaldisintegrationofhisdreamsandlifework"(p.157). Chapter10brieflydescribesthelastthirtyyearsafterMao'sdeathandDeng's rise.Withthelastsectiononthe2008BeijingOlympics,Karlendsherbookon MaoZedongandChinanotingthattheOlympicsloganof"Oneworld,one dream"doesnotincludeMao'sdreamofsocialistrevolution.ButMaoisnot irrelevanttotoday'sleadersinChina.ForthenewgenerationoftheChinese Communistleaderstoclaimlegitimacyinthepost-Maoeraisatoncetorepudiate MaoismandtoretaintheimageandmemoryofMao. MaoemergesfromKarl'sproficientaccountasayoungmangrowingupinan erawhen"fundamentalglobaltransformationcouldbethought"(p.xi).Hedared tothinkanddaredtotry--tochallengeoldordersandtotransformChinaandthe world.MaofirmlybelievedinthetransformativepoweroftheCommunistmovement,andhewantedtheChinesepeopletobelieveitwithhim.Ironically,Mao's visionofa"newworldwithoutdominationorexploitation"(p.139)waspursued throughhisinsistenceofhisdominationofthecourseofaction,causingmuch violenceanddestruction,includinglives. ThebookfulfillsitspromiseofpresentingMaoinaglobalhistoricalcontext. ItsintendedaudiencewilllearnasufficientamountofChinesehistorythatcharacterizestheMaoera.Karlstrikesagoodbalancebetweenpresentinganoverall pictureofMao,Maoism,andMao'spoliciesandmorespecifickeymomentsof Mao'srevolutionandthehavocitcreated.WhileKarl'sbookismorethanasuperficialaccountofMaoandhisChina,thereisanabsenceofdepthofanalysiswith regardtoMao'scomplexinconsistencies,charisma,andutterbrutality.Forthe specialist,thereislittlenewtobegainedfromthebook,butitsvalueliesinprovidinganintricatestoryofMaoandChinaduringhiseratointerestedandintelligentgeneralreaders. YuShen Yu Shen is a professor of history at Indiana University Southeast, specializing in U.S.-China relations in the twentieth century. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press RichardKing,editor.Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward: Two Stories. Honolulu:UniversityofHawai`iPress,2010.133pp.Hardcover$35.00, isbn978-0-8248-3402-9.Paperback$15.00,isbn978-0-8248-3436-4. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (3) – Jun 15, 2010

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338 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 RebeccaE.Karl.Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History.Durham,NC:DukeUniversityPress,2010.xii,200pp. Paperback$21.95,isbn978-0-8223-4795-8. RebeccaE.Karlhaswrittenarich,deeplyanalytical,yethighlyaccessibleaccount ofMaoZedong,whohasdefiedbothdeificationanddemonizationandremained relevanttohistoriansandthegeneralreadingpublic.Whilebreakingnonew ground,KarltakesafreshapproachtoexplainingMao.ShecontextualizesMao andMaoismininternationalupheavalsofthelatenineteenthcenturyintothe twentiethcentury,whichinteractedwithChina'sownsearchforitsplaceinthe changingworld.ThisnewassessmentofMaocontainstwohundredpages,divided intotenchapters.Thenarrativefollowsachronologicalorder,startingwiththe birthofMaoin1893andendingwith"The2008BeijingOlympicsand Beyond"--thelastsectionheadinginthelastchapterofthebook. AsKarlherselfadmits,thisbookisforgeneralreadersmorethanforspecialists.Theinspirationbehindwritingthebookcamefromherencounterswith peopleovertheyearswhoare"genuinelyinterestedbutperhapsnotveryknowledgeableaboutChina"(China Beat,interviewwithJeffWasserstrom,June10, 2010).Indicationsthatitisnotwrittenforspecialistsincludespartanusageof footnotesandaveryfocusedyetlimitedbibliography.Asaresult,hernarrative readssmoothly,withoutmuchinterruptionfromfootnotes.Eachofthetenchaptersisfurtherdividedintosections,withheadingsthatclearlysignifythefocusof thefollowingcontent.Infact,whilethechaptertitlesgenerallyindicateaperiodin historyunderreview,suchas"GreatLeapandRestoration,1958­1965"ofchapter7, thesectionheadingsarechosentocaptureaspecificmomentofthatperiod.For example,inthechapter"TheCulturalRevolution:PoliticsinCommand,1966­ 1969,"thesectionheadingsguidethereaderthroughseveralkeymomentsduring thosechaoticyears--"ThePrelude:HaiRui,"markingthebeginningofthegatheringofclouds,and"TheNinthNationalCongressoftheChineseCommunist Party,"signifyingtheendofthemostluan(disorderlyandlawless)periodinthe CulturalRevolution. Aimingatabroaderreadingpublic,theauthordoesnotscaledownher analyticalrigorandreduceMaotoeitherthesimplecaricatureofatyrannical monsteroraniconiccharismaticleader.HerpurposeistoexamineandcomprehendMaoinavolatileandoftenhostileenvironment.MaoandMaoismcanonly beunderstoodinthehistoricalmomentinChinaandbeyondthatproducedMao thepersonandMaoismthephilosophy.Thebibliographyreflectsthiseffortofthe author.Itmaynotimpressaspecialistatfirstglance,butacarefulreadercan discernthatallthebooksinthebibliographyaredirectlyrelevanttotheauthoras shesuccessfullyinterweavesMao'slife,character,andideologywiththeimmediate andtranscendentalenvironmentthattumbledandforgedhim. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 339 Itis,therefore,imperativetobringthereadertotheworldintowhichMao wasborn.Thebookopenswiththesection"FreeTrade,Opium,Tea,andSilver," clearlyatimewhenChinawasfastdisintegratinginthefaceofWesternintrusion andimposition.Itwasthebeginningofthe"centuryofhumiliation,"whichMao andmanypeopleofhisgenerationdevotedtheirlivestoending.Againstthis backdrop,MaowouldemergeastheleaderwhoultimatelyfoundedanindependentChinain1949,afterdecadesofstruggleagainsthisenemies,bothforeignand domestic,includingmanymembersfromwithinhisownparty. AsforMao'schildhoodandearlyadulthood,Karldoesnotoffermuchnew materialorfreshviewpoints.Maolefthomewhenhewassixteen,tooyoungand tooinexperiencedtohaveafirmideology.Atthesametime,Karlpointsoutthat hisruralrootswouldshapehispersonalhabitsthathewouldpurposefullymaintain"asanexpressionofpoliticalpurity"(p.8).Bytheendofchapter2,whenMao wastwenty-eightyearsofage,hehadtransformedfromaliberaltoaBolshevik Communist.Thistransformationtookplaceagainstafragmentedintellectual sceneinChinaintheearly1920s.DisillusionedwithhisyouthfulsearchforsolutionstoChina'sproblemsinanarchismandliberalism,MaoembracedtheBolsheviktotalrevolutionby1921.Hewouldbeoneofthetwelvedelegatesthatmetand officiallyfoundedtheChineseCommunistPartyinShanghai."TheformalfoundingoftheCCP[ChineseCommunistParty]wasatotallyunremarkableevent" (p. 18),butitwasaremarkablemilestoneinMao'slifeandinChina'sdestiny. Thenextthreechapterscontinuefrom1921through1949.Thesedecades wouldwitnessMao'stransformationfromadedicatedbutordinaryCommunist PartymembertothesupremeleaderoftheParty.Furthermore,hewouldalso createanideologynamedafterhim--"MaoZedongthought"--andacquirea statusnottobechallengedwithoutsevereandadverseconsequencesforthosewho daredtoconfronthispolicies.Thefirstshiftinhiscommitmentoccurredwhenhe was"exhausted,dispirited,andreadytotakeabreak"(p.27)inlate1924after followingtheParty'sstrategyofcollaboratingwiththeNationalistsandagitatingin urbanareaswithoutmuchsuccess.AsChinastruggledtoreunifyitself,thetwo majorpoliticalpartiesfoundthemselvesfurtherapartpoliticallyandideologically. Maowentthroughbeinganeffectiveanddedicatedlabororganizer,tobeing disillusioned;andbytheendof1924,hewasreadytotakeabreakfromParty work.InruralHunan,Maorediscoveredhisrevolutionaryinspiration,andfrom thistimeonward,Maowascommittedtomobilizingthepeasantryforthetriumph oftheChineseCommunistRevolution. BecauseofChiangKai-shek's"whiteterror,"theCommunistswereforcedto hideundergroundandtoescapefromthecities.ThecircumstanceallowedMaoto practicehisstrategyinthecountry.JinggangshanofferedMaotimeandspacefor tyingtogethertheelementsthatwouldsecurethefinalvictoryoftheCCPintwo decades--thegununderthecommandofthePartywhosestrengthwasfirmly basedonthemassesofthepeasantry.AlthoughMaoemergedasfirstamongthe 340 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 leadersoftheCommunistPartyduringtheLongMarch,heandhisfollowershad towaituntiltheysafelyarrivedinYenanforMaotocompletehistransformation, elaborateMaothought,andsecurehisleadershipoftheCCPand,soon,ofthe wholeofChinauntilhisdeath. Chapters6and7describetheMaoisterabeforetheCulturalRevolution.Ifhe committedthefirstpartofhislifetothemakingoftheRevolution,Maowould devotethelatterhalfofhislifetosustainingthespiritofthatRevolution.The authormakesagoodpointthat,inMao'smind,theCCP'svictoryoverthewhole ofChinadidnotmeantheendoftheRevolution;rather,itwas"partofdeepening thetransformationofthecreatingtheconditionsforequalityinsociety"(p.84). KarlidentifiestheenemyofMao'scontinuousandpermanentrevolution--Party bureaucracy.MaowouldtirelesslylaunchmassivecampaignsagainsttheParty, whichhehelpedestablishandstrengthen.NowthattheCCPruledoverChina, MaowouldgototheextentofdissolvingthePartyifhebelievedthatitbetrayed hisvisionofempoweringtheChinesepeopleintheirattempttochangetheir destiny.ThesechaptersprepareusfortheviolentbreakupbetweenMaoandhis formercomrades,whichwouldcomeintheformoftheCulturalRevolution. TheCulturalRevolutiontakesupthenexttwochapters.DefiningtheCultural Revolutioninthefirstsectionofchapter8,Karlconfrontsseveralexistingviewpoints.ShearguesthatMaodidnotwanttoseizestatepower;hewantedtouse statepowerinwagingtheRevolution.Shestatesthatitwasnotfearofdeathor desireforpersonalimmortalitythatpushedhimtolaunchtheCulturalRevolution;rather,itwashisconcernaboutthelongevityoftheChineseCommunist Revolution.KarlthinksthattheCulturalRevolutionwasnotanexpressionof religiosity,oramovementfollowedblindlybyapeoplewhoweretyrannizedinto it.Chaoticandmaddening,ithadloftygoals,oneofwhichwastoreconnect culturetorevolution,somethinginwhichMaopassionatelybelieved.ForMao,the wholepointoftheRevolutionwastocreatetheconditionsforthemassestoseek transformationoftheirlivesbythemselves(p.118). Inchapter9,theChineseCulturalRevolutionisnarratedagainsttheglobal upheavalscausedbybothanticolonialnationalisminAsia,Africa,andLatin America,andbydomesticradicalismallacrosstheworld.Mao'sCulturalRevolution,thoughhavinglostitsinitialtotallawlessness,racedforward,challengingthe existingnationalandinternationalordersandinspiringrevolutionsoutsideChina. However,intheend,theRevolutiondidnotfulfillitspotentialoftransforming Chinaandtheworld.Instead,Mao,hisbodyfailingfast,receivedNixoninBeijing, signalingtheendofthatdream. Theyear1976bodedillforthedyingleader.Therevolutionaryveteranswere passingawayinsuccession,startingwithZhouEnlaiinJanuary,thenDongBiwu inApril,andZhuDeinJuly.TherewasmassiveunrestthateruptedinApril, followedbytheTangshanearthquake,ahorrendousnaturaldisaster.DidMao Reviews 341 knowallthiswashappeningaroundhim?"Maolaydyinganddidnotwitnessthe finaldisintegrationofhisdreamsandlifework"(p.157). Chapter10brieflydescribesthelastthirtyyearsafterMao'sdeathandDeng's rise.Withthelastsectiononthe2008BeijingOlympics,Karlendsherbookon MaoZedongandChinanotingthattheOlympicsloganof"Oneworld,one dream"doesnotincludeMao'sdreamofsocialistrevolution.ButMaoisnot irrelevanttotoday'sleadersinChina.ForthenewgenerationoftheChinese Communistleaderstoclaimlegitimacyinthepost-Maoeraisatoncetorepudiate MaoismandtoretaintheimageandmemoryofMao. MaoemergesfromKarl'sproficientaccountasayoungmangrowingupinan erawhen"fundamentalglobaltransformationcouldbethought"(p.xi).Hedared tothinkanddaredtotry--tochallengeoldordersandtotransformChinaandthe world.MaofirmlybelievedinthetransformativepoweroftheCommunistmovement,andhewantedtheChinesepeopletobelieveitwithhim.Ironically,Mao's visionofa"newworldwithoutdominationorexploitation"(p.139)waspursued throughhisinsistenceofhisdominationofthecourseofaction,causingmuch violenceanddestruction,includinglives. ThebookfulfillsitspromiseofpresentingMaoinaglobalhistoricalcontext. ItsintendedaudiencewilllearnasufficientamountofChinesehistorythatcharacterizestheMaoera.Karlstrikesagoodbalancebetweenpresentinganoverall pictureofMao,Maoism,andMao'spoliciesandmorespecifickeymomentsof Mao'srevolutionandthehavocitcreated.WhileKarl'sbookismorethanasuperficialaccountofMaoandhisChina,thereisanabsenceofdepthofanalysiswith regardtoMao'scomplexinconsistencies,charisma,andutterbrutality.Forthe specialist,thereislittlenewtobegainedfromthebook,butitsvalueliesinprovidinganintricatestoryofMaoandChinaduringhiseratointerestedandintelligentgeneralreaders. YuShen Yu Shen is a professor of history at Indiana University Southeast, specializing in U.S.-China relations in the twentieth century. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press RichardKing,editor.Heroes of China's Great Leap Forward: Two Stories. Honolulu:UniversityofHawai`iPress,2010.133pp.Hardcover$35.00, isbn978-0-8248-3402-9.Paperback$15.00,isbn978-0-8248-3436-4.

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2010

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