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240 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Mark Seiden. China in Revolution: The Yenan Way Revisited. Armonk, NewYork: M. E. Sharpe, 1995. xiv, 312 pp. Hardcover $55.00, isbn 1-56324554 -x. Paperback $22.50, isbn 1-56324-555-8. In 1971, Harvard University published The Yenan Way in Revolutionary China. The author, Mark Seiden, noted in the Preface of that work that his ideas were shaped by "an intellectual revolution in America touched offby reaction to the Vietnam War." He also credited "The foment centering around the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS)." In fact, Seiden served as coeditor of the CCAS Bulletin and ofAmerica's Asia: Dissenting Essays on Asian-American Relations , which featured a rather vitriolic attack on senior scholars in the China field. The early 1970s witnessed some rather dramatic confrontations among those who were considered scholars of Asian history. Largely, but not exclusively, these encounters were along generational lines. Younger scholars, often ABDs or new Ph.D.s like Mark Seiden, banded together to challenge the establishment, both in academe and in government. Unfortunately, the polemic became very polarized, with little or no middle ground. The academic establishment was accused of contributing to making China an international pariah by bowing to the dictates of the U.S. government. To counter this, young scholars like Seiden tended to favor without question those groups such as the Chinese Communists who claimed to represent the oppressed masses. The original Yenan Way was promoted as a carefully researched, detailed account of the process by which the Chinese Communists developed a viable revolutionary program. Seiden insisted that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had not simply moved into a vacuum created by World War II, as he says was argued by senior China scholar Chalmers Johnson in his work Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power. Rather, Seiden argued that by creating viable alternatives to decaying institutions the CCP was able to win the enthusiastic voluntary support of the great majority of the people in areas under their control. This generalization was challenged almost immediately by those who pointed out that Selden's study focused on the Shensi-Kansu-Ninghsia border region, an area not at all typical of other areas in which the CCP operated during its rise to power. Nearly twenty-five years later, in 1995, Seiden revisited The Yenan Way in the book under review here. Acknowledging some of the forces that had initially affected his scholarship, Seiden notes how things have changed. U.S.- China rela-© 1998 by University tions have been on a roller-coaster ride since the Shanghai Communiqué of1972. ofHawai ? Pressihe Vietnam War finally ended in 1975, Mao Tse-tung passed from the scene in 1976, and under Teng Hsiao-p'ing the People's Republic of China embarked on a policy of capitalism with a socialist face. Reviews 241 What Seiden does not address are the changes that have taken place within the China field. Selden's generation are now the senior scholars of that area of study. Younger scholars ofthe China field—those who have done their undergraduate or graduate work since the 1960s and early 1970s—have a much more sober, objective view of Chinese Communism. By and large they do not buy into either the idea ofthe CCP as a model for creatively addressing problems ofpoverty and inequality or the idea ofthe CCP as world outcast. Seiden believes that China in Revolution: The Yenan Way Revisited "reaffirms propositions and perspectives at the heart ofthe original work. In particular, it locates the revolution and the resistance in the context of anticolonial national liberation movements; [and] it finds in the Yenan Way several of China's seminal contributions to the tiieory and praxis ofrevolutionary change and social transformation " (p. x). The early part ofthis assertion is probably accurate. The Yenan Way did, indeed, place the Chinese Communist revolution in the wider context ofThird World wars ofnational liberation, which raged during the early and middle part ofthis century. As to the Chinese Communists contributing in a rudimentary way to revolutionary theory, time does not seem to verify this. The uniqueness ofeach revolutionary movement makes it difficult to utilize exogenous theories, as the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 240-242
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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