In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

516 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Richard T. Phillips. China Since 1911. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. xii, 315 pp. Hardcover $45.00, isbn 0-312-12941-6. Paperback $19.95, isbn 0-312-12942-4. Many of us who teach modern Chinese history have long lamented the absence of a truly excellent and comprehensive textbook. There are many books on the market that are certainly usable, and even some that are quite good; but there is nothing so far that has achieved a broad consensus as an "essential text." Not surprisingly , then, this need has encouraged many to attempt to write the Chinese-history equivalent of Paul Samuelson's Economics. China Since 1911 is the most recent offering in this genre. Richard T. Phillips has produced a relatively standard textbook-like study covering the period from the fall of the Qing dynasty to the present. That he tries to fit so much of this history into less than 290 tightly worded pages is commendable. Equally laudable is the eloquence and clarity of his writing—although, lamentably, it may prove too erudite for some beginning students. There is nothing particularly new in Phillips' description and historical analysis of this period. His rendering of history is what a majority ofmodern historians of China would readily agree with. For example, he is critical, although not too discourteously, of the Guomindang (GMD) decade (p. 100-101); he sees the victory of the communists in the civil war as inevitable given the historical circumstances; and he finds fault with Chalmers Johnson's analysis (Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence ofRevolutionary China, 19371945 ) ofwhy the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won the civil war (p. 131). At times, Phillips' economy with words works well in permitting him to depict events in a remarkably lucid, albeit succinct, fashion. Good examples of this would be his explanation of the various Soviet policies in China in the years immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution (pp. 61-63) and the Trotsky-Stalin feud as it related to China (pp. 76-77). One could also mention his discussion of CCPGMD differences in 1948-1949 (pp. 151-160). Ofparticular interest is Phillips' appreciation of the fact that any discussion of contemporary China must extend beyond the political frontiers of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the situation of its ethnic counterparts throughout the region. To this end, Phillips has included a final brief chapter that surveys "Greater China," exploring the current and future prospects of the relationships© 1997 by University between Beijing and the various Chinese states and communities outside the PRC. ofHawai'i PressQne gathers that Phillips has not meant this to be a book for the general reader. "My realization," he explains, is "that even the best textbook is oflimited use without the immediacy of talking and thinking about China" (p. ix). While Reviews 517 this is incontrovertible, the challenge to authors is how broad an audience to reach for. This book, I would offer, will be oflimited use to students in a classroom setting where the instructor is actively providing considerable additional information and explanation, for so much context is missing that anything less would leave the reader markedly misinformed and confused. Many examples can be cited. There is no discussion of the geographical setting , nothing about Confucius or Confucianism (on page 33 Phillips does mentions some problems with Confucianism but without explanation as to historical context, why these problems occurred, how they occurred, and so forth). There is no Opium War in this text or any discussion ofthe role ofinternational trade. People are introduced without explanation: Claire Chennault is mentioned by last name only and never further identified (p. 129). Joseph Stilwell also appears suddenly (p. 129), also without a first name, although he is then properly introduced some fourteen pages further on. There is no discussion ofwhy Sun Yat-sen lacked power or how Japan became a major power. And so on. While the discussion ofthe events of the 1980s is good, the same cannot be said of die events ofdie first half of the 1990s. Indeed, the reader gets a sense that although the book has a 1996...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 516-517
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.