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Publisher's Summary

Margaret MacMillan brings her extraordinary gifts to two of the most important countries today, the United States and China, and one of the most significant moments in modern history: Richard Nixon's week in China in February 1972, which opened relations between America and China (closed since the communists came to power in 1949). This momentous meeting and visit ultimately laid the foundation for the complex and difficult relationship between China and the United States that we see today.

Nixon thought China could help him get out of Vietnam. Mao needed American technology to repair the huge damage of the Cultural Revolution. Both men wanted an ally against an aggressive Soviet Union. Did they get what they wanted? Did Mao betray his own revolutionary ideals? Did Nixon make a mistake in coming to China as a supplicant? And has the United States been at a disadvantage ever since?

Drawing on newly available material from China and America, and capturing the personalities at the center of the drama (Henry Kissinger, Pat Nixon, and Chou En-lai among them), this breathtaking history looks at one of the formative moments of the 20th century and casts new light on two countries and their relationship, on into the world of the 21st century.

©2007 Margaret MacMillan; (P)2007 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"A lively account....[MacMillan] turns a potentially dry diplomatic story into a fascinating study in high-wire diplomacy, full of intrigue and drama." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 08-23-10


Many of us lived through the meeting between Nixon and Mao. About all I remember is Nixon's return and his speech before Congress on TV. Now, MacMillan's book tells us everything there is to know (how could there be more) about the relationship(s) between the two countries in historical context, anecdotes that make individual players come alive to the listener, and wonderful insights all along the way. For example, the Ping Pong diplomacy - I laughed out loud at what took place.

The prose is wonderful and Barbara Caruso is great. There are a few places that are dry, anyone who has even a marginal interest in this one week in history, will not be disappointed.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Lots of details

previously unreported about Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China. Fascinating detail, average writing and above average narration. Recommended for the true history buff, but, if you are not crazy about this era you may want to pass.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 05-31-10

A Great Look At History That Changed The World

I was just a young person in the 70's when Nixon went to visit China, so I didn't really follow the news as it was happening at the time. I'm so glad that this book brought that historic time to life and helped me understand some of the relationships that formed then and are still in play today.

Great book and some interesting characters who helped shape the world!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Captures the ambiance & tone of the tine

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I learned from the book. It could have been streamlined a bit! I appreciate the author bringing out Nixon, kissinger & the State department.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Book has a weak ending. After cramming all that research, it could do with a fast forward to 21st century US China relationship to put the trip into context! More Of how china was changed by this visit would be nice!

Did the narration match the pace of the story?


Did Nixon and Mao inspire you to do anything?

I ended up read a book on the Long March & on the Korean war - the coldest winter.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The Stage Was Set When These Two Met In 1972!

1972 seems like eons ago, but in reality, it wasn't that long ago when these two global superpowers (USA and China) had a very historic meeting that set the stage for where we are today.

Thanks to President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, the US took the necessary steps to proactively engage China and China's leadership. The meeting was so historic because it open relations with China, who had been closed since the Communist came to power in the 1940's.

Both Superpowers have come a very long way since then. America has been #1 since WWII, but China is on the rise now and most likely will be the global economic leader within the next decade.

The author, Margaret McMillan, does a really good job in detailing the back and forth that took place in even arranging the meetings. Also, with so much at stake at the time, in global peace relations at the time, this was a meeting for the ages and the right time and place.

Book summary: ****

  • Overall
  • Elton
  • Los angeles, CA, United States
  • 12-30-07

Pretty Embarrassing

When this book finally finished I looked out the window of the plane and thought...Nixon made a fool of himself. This book encapsulates the American mindset on China. Everybody is ready to sell out to get in, thinking it's a great deal, but nobody ever stops to realize what the U.S. is loosing. Nixon, like Bush Jr., lost his backbone when dealing with China. By keeping an eye on the money they let everything else go; values, morals, ehtics and national security. While this book poorly explains the Chinese side of the equation, people familiar with China, Mao, Enlai and Kissinger will find a few funny points, but nothing poiniant.

5 of 21 people found this review helpful