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48 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995© 1995 by University ofHawai'i Press Bain acknowledges that "friends made during field-work who assuaged the loneliness of the long-distance thesis writer by corresponding over the years since fieldwork ended, supplying reports and updated information, provided numerous opinions . . ." (p. xix). The huge amount ofwork involved, especially for Appendix C, would have required the collective assistance ofa group ofwilling and purposeful helpers. These helpers apparently were not Dr. Bain's acquaintances in Mei-Nung, nor were they the Village Soil Literature writers, but like-minded academics whom Dr. Bain met during her fieldwork. Sophisticated as they are, they display less than a mastery ofthe facts of agriculture, due possibly to their academic backgrounds in the social sciences. Reading Irene Bain's book gave me a rare opportunity to learn the difficulties faced by foreign scholars in studying subjects in China that are by nature controversial . There is an inclination to seek information from unofficial sources, believing this to be more unbiased than the official views. This is fine, but my suggestion is that ways must be found for a more thorough method to "trust and verify" the material collected. Secondly, in selecting people to help in translation and interpretation , one must select those whose own work is in the same field of study. Many incorrect interpretations in Bain's book can be traced to a lack of familiarity on the part ofher helpers with the substance of the subject. Perhaps this journal can serve as a forum for the study ofthis kind ofproblem. H. T. Chang Retired Agriculturist, Lenexa, Kansas mm A. Doak Barnett. China's Far West: Four Decades ofChange. Boulder, San Francisco, and Oxford: Westview Press, 1993. xiii, 688 pp. $24.95. This book was a monumental undertaking, forty years in preparation. In this work, A. Doak Barnett compares the Western China ofthe late 1940s with that of the late 1980s. His 1948 China on the Eve ofthe Communist Takeover provides the baseline for the current study. Barnett revisited Western China in 1988 to update his past research. He did not return there after 1989, but he sees no real impact from Tiananmen. His work joins a spate ofrecent articles and reviews, including those by Harrell (1990), Dreyer (1994), Gladney (1993, 1994), Seymour (1993), Sneath (1994), and Toops (1992), on the Inner Asian and minority portions of China. Reviews 49 Barnett is successful in providing us with two slices in time, but to examine thoroughly the changes in those forty years and then to link the 1940s with the 1980s is a rather more difficult task. In his travels through seven provinces and autonomous regions, he probed government, party, and academic representatives on two sets ofquestions: How much had these distant areas changed in four decades ? And what had been the impact ofthe economic reforms and accelerating processes ofgrowth and modernization spurred by Deng in the 1980s? Besides a prologue and a concluding chapter, titled "Reflections," each chapter follows a program ofissues focused on a certain place in China's Far West. There are chapters on the major cities and surrounding areas ofthe Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (A. R.), Ningxia Hui A. R., Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang Uygur A. R., Ganzi (Sichuan), and Yunnan. These places, inhabited by the Han, Mongol, Hui, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazak, Hani, and Yi ethnic groups, have been shaped by Maoist totalitarianism and the reforms ofDeng in the past forty years. His analysis ofeach place covers local economy, government, and social (including ethnic) conditions. Comments on the 1948 situation are most informative , especially as Barnett compares that situation with the late 1980s. Barnett juxtaposes a selection ofphotographs from both time frames and impressions of the region, with economic statistics,· social description, and political exposition resulting from interviews. In some ways these chapters resemble xian zhi, a wealth of information to be processed in the introductory and concluding chapters. Barnett completes his goals by answering the two questions noted above. The themes are that ofmodernization and integration tempered by the role of ethnicity . Beijing has applied the twin forces ofmodernization (industrialization) and integration to produce a West that, in four decades ofchange, is bound to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 48-51
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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