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242 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 Ross Terrill. China in Our Time: The Epic Saga ofthe People's Republic: From the Communist Victory to Tiananmen Square and Beyond. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. 363 pp. Hardcover $25.00. Paperback $13.00. Unlike his other works on China, this book by Ross Terrill is neither an exhaustive study or review ofsome selected issues in China, nor a biographical narrative of Mao or Jiang Qing, nor a treatise on China's relations with the United States or the outside world; it is more like a travelogue recording his impressions and reflections based on his many visits to China since his first in 1964. Nevertheless, his book is purposefully written to answer the critical questions about China tiiat long have "puzzled" die world: "How have 40 years of Communist rule changed the country? How and why did Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, both revolutionaries and reformers, become dictators and ruthless oppressors? Can China become democratic? How will China exercise its influence as a world power? And, most urgentiy: After the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, will China be next?" (from the book's flyer). To at least a partial extent, Terrill has succeeded in answering some ofthese questions or in providing penetrating insights from his own unique perspective based on his extensive personal travel in China since the 1960s. Since his days as a Christian idealist and a liberal socialist in Australia, Terrill has devoted more than twenty-five years to the intense study and observation of the culture and politics of China. Although he has not answered each of these questions direcdy or precisely in all cases, nevertheless he presents for us a clear picture of the problems confronting the Chinese in the past, at present, and in die foreseeable future. His chronological account of events in China, based on his many visits (more than twenty times since his first), and his numerous contacts with people from different backgrounds in and outside the mainland, illuminates vividly the enigma that is modern-day China—its people, its politics, its problems , its prospects. This book is rich in information, revealing in dialogue, captivating in description, and highly readable. Surprisingly, the author is frank to admit tiiat his views of China have drastically changed since die 1950s and early 1960s, he began to have doubts in the late 1960s, and became a critic of the Beijing government from the 1970s.1 In order to do justice to this work, it is necessary to summarize briefly and selectively; I will offer my personal observations, where appropriate, on some ofthe author's perceptions and interpretations.© 1995 by UniversityQn his first visit to Beijing and Guangzhou in 1964, he found "bristling patrioj awai ? Pressotism, ideological fanaticism, and a conviction among the Chinese Communists that their revolution had indeed transformed world politics." However, he frankly concedes, diat at that time he "did not quite understand tiiat the Communist Reviews 243 revolution was a deceptive facade behind which lay a mixture ofsocial change, political repression, and cultural continuity" (p. 15). Probably the list ofthose who failed to understand or who refused to admit their own fallibility during this time would include many other "China Hands" including John King Fairbank, Terrill's mentor, as well. Three decades later, the author finds himself"still pondering the mix of otherness and universality in Chinese ways, the blend of Chineseness and Stalinism in the Communist party ofMao and Deng, the elusiveness ofthe Chinese individual , and the staggering power of Chinese communism to eclipse private worlds with its own haughty 'people's' agenda" (p. 18). He is at a loss to explain why "for Chinese officials, the nobler Chinese society was considered (by themselves ) to be, the more they would justify amoral international dealings—selling opium, exploding atom bombs, trading with South Africa—as a means to the beautiful end ofstrengthening socialist China" ( p. 40). While he finds "China over the years to be an arena ofhope and fate, ofidealism and betrayal, of the smile that invites and the sword tiiat rejects, " he nevertheless feels, as "a traveler of the mind," that he "remains outside...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 242-255
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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