Archive for May, 2009

Far Eastern Economic Review says …

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

[Jay Taylor] uncovers a good deal of evidence that suggests [the conventional view of Chiang] is ungenerous and oversimplified. …  Judging by his stated goal of challenging assumptions and rounding out the cardboard characterization of Chiang, Mr. Taylor succeeds admirably [,uncovering] a man devoted to reversing a century of humiliation in China.

Click here to see the excerpt.

Did you know … ?

Monday, May 11th, 2009

When in 1927 Chiang, and then the Left KMT, purged the Chinese Communist Party (which was preparing its own purge), Joseph Stalin ordered it to launch insurrections across the country, and through Shanghai provided an initial contribution of US$300,000 and 15,000 guns. Such critical aid continued for the next ten years. In 1933-34, Stalin sent the large CCP force in Jiangxi province more than 4 million Mexican silver dollars, a popular hard currency in China at the time. When in October 1934 Mao rode out of the Jiangxi camp onto the Long March, like each of the 25,000 fighters of the First Red Army, he carried a blanket and three days supply of rice. The Communist troops survived on the fourth day and thereafter for the next 12 months and 3,000 miles because they carried with them trunks full of these Mexican silver dollars. They had so many trunks of silver they even buried some.

The Economist says …

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

This enthralling book by Jay Taylor of Harvard University shows that [the] conventional views of both Chiang and the Chinese civil war are caricatures.

Click here to see excerpt.

Did you know … ?

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

By the early 1920s, Sun Yat-sen saw Chiang as a stand-out urban insurgent, clandestine operative, tactical military officer in the field, and chief of staff of a multi-divisional unit. Equally important, the young officer from Zejiang province was the quintessential loyalist, but not afraid to disagree with the supreme leader. He was also a thinker, who early on submitted a blueprint for the Northern Expedition and kept abreast of world affairs, studying Russian and reading everything he could find on the new Soviet state. He was not popular among his peers but known to be tenacious, courageous, and apparently honest. It was a great advantage also that he had no base of support or network of influence, or, in the Chinese phrase, guanxi.

The Washington Post says …

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Marshaling archival materials made newly available to researchers, including about four decades’ worth of Chiang’s daily diaries and documents from the Soviet era, [Taylor's biography] torpedoes many of that catechism’s cherished tenets.

Click here to see excerpt.

Did you know … ?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Chiang Kai-shek was a taciturn introvert and a temperamental, humorless, command personality but also a romantic who read Tang poetry, as a young man fell madly in love with a succession of beautiful and expensive prostitutes, in a very unChinese manner, held hands with his wife in public (and before that his concubines), picked flowers for her, cooked fried rice for their picnics, and on emotional moments burst into tears.

Politics and Prose - May 9

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Please come and join a discussion of The Generalissimo at  “Politics and Prose” bookstore and coffeehouse on Saturday, May 9, at 1:00 p.m.  I would love to see you there.

Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
(On Connecticut Avenue at the intersection with
Nebraska Avenue; north of Van Ness/ UDC
and south of Chevy Chase Circle)

Click here for details on the event, and click here to go to the Politics and Prose homepage.