The eminent historian and strategist reflects on how China's past illuminates its 21st-century trajectory, drawing on 40 years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders.
In On China, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to the country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. Drawing on historical records as well as on his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past 40 years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history and reflects on the consequences for the 21st-century world.
As Kissinger underscores, the unique conditions under which China developed continue to shape its policies and attitudes toward the outside world. For centuries, China rarely encountered other societies of comparable size and sophistication. China was the "Middle Kingdom", treating the peoples on its periphery as vassal states. At the same time, Chinese statesmen - facing threats of invasion from without and the contests of competing factions within - developed a canon of strategic thought that prized the virtues of subtlety, patience, and indirection over feats of martial prowess.
On China examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy, from the earliest days through the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on the modern era. Kissinger illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such events as the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, the opening of relations with the United States, the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
With a final chapter on China's 21st-century world role, On China provides a sweeping historical perspective on Chinese foreign policy from one of the premier statesmen of the 20th century.
©2011 Henry Kissinger (P)2011 Penguin
"From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy from ancient times to the fraught present 'strategic trust' with the United States. Former Secretary of State Kissinger brings his considerable scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to this chronicle of the complicated evolution and precarious future of Chinese diplomacy with the West.... Sage words and critical perspective lent by a significant participant in historical events." (Kirkus Reviews)
An enriching experience.
The dialogs between President Nixon and Chairman Mao.
No, but Nicholas Hormann did an excellent job. I even looked to see what else he narrated to see if I would be interested in any of the other works.
It would have to be a documentary, I would simply call it 'On China' and leave it at that.
This was a very enlightening experience. I'm very glad to have listened to it-I definitely wouldn't have made it through reading it. Its too high of a reading level for me.
Reformed Lawyer in the People's Republic of California
I have been an amateur student of Chinese/Taiwan history (especially political history) for years. I've read about a dozen first class expositions on Chinese history and political history. When I read (heard) Dr Kissinger's "On China,", I was almost literally stunned. I cannot believe that I did not discover Dr Kissinger's work before. The book was a paradigm shift for me. I had this particular book on my Wish List for a long while, but passed it because, I am ashamed to admit, I was prejudiced by what I wrongly believed was an anticipated bias of Dr Kissinger, admittedly in complete ignorance, given what I perceived the part he played in recent American history. I simply ignored Dr Kissinger's rôle in geopolitical history because I did not have, for any apparent reason, the patience to listen to him -- even though I grew up during his tenure in international diplomacy. BIG mistake. So, bottom, line: Regardless of your political bent, you must read this to appreciate the perspective of what I believe is one of the most influential people in modern American history, someone who also has a firm grasp on political history in general. Unless you spend time pondering Dr Kissinger's work, you are cheating yourself of some valuable insight and truncating your worldview dramatically. PS: I was not pleased by Dr Kissinger's APPARENT appreciation for Mao, Tse-Tung's diplomatic skill, but after a great deal of reflection since reading Dr Kissinger's book, I am thankful for the experience and knowledge imparted and my worldview has been appreciably augmented for the better as a result. The narrator was superb and the book was easy to follow. This is one I will re-read regularly because there is so much there to appreciate.
The first half of the book regarding the how Kissinger feels China's history has created Chinese culture as we see it today was interesting. The last third of the book regarding his negotiations was less interesting and I do not agree with several of his interpretations, but that is also what makes this book valuable, to hear other experts' interpretations of China.
The reader's pronunciation of Mandarin words made me cringe.
i am visiting china and this was required reading prior to my visit. despite my initial misgivings, Kissinger has changed my opinions and ignorance into appreciatio, and hopefully mutual respect. I am now handing out copies of the book and proselytizing its importance to my contemporaries.
1.Have a comprehensive view on how Chinese and American culture differ from the Qing dynasty to modern days.
2. Understand how each of the Chinese leaders builds on another and together transformed from a poor nation bounded by ancient culture to an economic powerhouse with much liberal thoughts. Only Kissinger can have such personal and yet rational observation on each leader's different global politics approach.
I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this one in a long time. I listen to a lot of books and read books constantly. I only wished he would have described one of those State Banquets and the types of food they served him-in a chapter in the back of the back of the book. Roy Schmidt, PhD
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