“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Visualising China’s New Blog

Posted: July 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

For those who don’t know this treasure trove, Visualising China is a project to allow users to explore and enhance more than 8,000 digitised images of photographs of China taken between 1850 and 1950. It allows access to many previously unseen albums, envelopes and private collections and also major collections such as Historical Photographs of China, the Sir Robert Hart Collection and Joseph Needham’s Photographs of Wartime China. It’s a lot of fun, a way to spend hours lost in old China on a rainy day and the brainchild of Prof Robert Bickers at Uni of Bristol.

And now they’ve started a blog the idea of which is to find new ways to offering fresh perspectives, thoughts, and digging out new themes etc on the photographs on the site. Simply choose a photo, or couple of photos, and offer some insight. I rashly decided to try this and, probably due to not having much to do or something compared to everyone else (slightly worrying), ended up their debut blogger talking about the old Jessfield Park in Shanghai (Zhongshan Park as now is)…..click here

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Tiananmen Revisited – Frontline Club 29/7/14

Posted: July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »

Just to note I’ll be chairing a discussion on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre at the Frontline Club in London on 29th July with Louisa Lim (author of the recently published The People’s Republic of Amnesia) and James Miles, the Economist’s new China Editor and author of The Legacy of Tiananmen)….RSVP here

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In the early hours of 4 June 1989, soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on a pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square, killing untold hundreds of people. Twenty five years on, the event has been commemorated around the world, but how does China remembers this defining moment in the country’s history?

We will be joined by a panel including the award-winning journalist Louisa Lim, whose book The People’s Republic of Amnesia charts how events unfolded that night, revealing previously unknown details.

Whilst looking back, we will also trace the effect the crackdown had on society then and the impact it continues to have today. We will explore how the events of twenty five years ago have shaped national identity in China.

Chaired by Paul French, an author and a widely published analyst and commentator on Asia, Asian politics and current affairs. He is author of North Korea: State of Paranoia and the international bestseller Midnight in Peking.

The panel:

Louisa Lim as an award-winning journalist who has reported from China for a decade, most recently for National Public Radio. Previously she was the BBC’s Beijing correspondent. She is author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited.

James Miles is the outgoing Beijing bureau chief of The Economist, a position he took up in 2001. He will begin a new appointment in August as The Economist‘s China Editor, based in London. He is the author of The Legacy of Tiananmen: China in Disarray.

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H.B. Morse, Customs Commissioner and Historian of China

Posted: July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »

A biography of HB Morse – interesting as don’t know of another one and a reissue of John K Fairbank’s bio….

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Hosea Ballou Morse (1855-1934) sailed to China in 1874, and for the next thirty-five years he labored loyally in the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs Service, becoming one of its most able commissioners and acquiring a deep knowledge of China’s economy and foreign relations. After his retirement in 1909, Morse devoted himself to scholarship. He pioneered in the Western study of China’s foreign relations, weaving from the tangled threads of the Ch’ing dynasty’s foreign affairs several seminal interpretive histories, most notably his three-volume magnum opus, The International Relations of the Chinese Empire (1910-18).

At the time of his death, Morse was considered the major historian of modern China in the English-speaking world, and his works played a profound role in shaping the contours of Western scholarship on China.

Begun as a labor of love by his protégé, John King Fairbank, this lively biography based primarily on Morse’s vast collection of personal papers sheds light on many crucial events in modern Chinese history, as well as on the multifaceted Western role in late imperial China, and provides new insights into the beginnings of modern China studies in this country. Half-finished when Fairbank died, the project was completed by his colleagues, Martha Henderson Coolidge and Richard J. Smith.

John King Fairbank (1907-1991) was Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History at Harvard University and founder/director of Harvard’s East Asian Research Center, now the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.
Martha Henderson Coolidge is associate in research at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University.
Richard J. Smith is professor of history and director of Asian Studies at Rice University.

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Atención – Medianoche en Pekín es publicado

Posted: July 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

The Spanish edition of Midnight in PekingMedianoche en Pekin – is now available courtesy of my Spanish publishers Plataforma Editorial – many thanks to Ricard Vela for the translation…

Medianoche en Pekin

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Indian Hill Station Development

Posted: July 8th, 2014 | No Comments »

I’ve long been interested in the old hill stations of India and those summer resorts and hill stations that existed elsewhere, notably China (Moganshan, Kuling etc – which I’ve posted about before – just use the search box for those posts) but also those in Vietnam, the Philippines, Ceylon and elsewhere. This interest was partly sparked by Barbara Crosette’s excellent book from the 1990s (and still eminently readable) The Great Hill Stations of Asia as well as the novelist JG Farrell’s The Hill Station. For those with an interest in Moganshan there’s also Mark Kitto’s history of Moganshan China Cuckoo and a rather fun novel (featuring Wallis Simpson and her wild times in China) called Mokanshan. Others have also grabbed my attention for posts and visits including Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands and Maymo in Burma.

Anyway, according to the FT, Hindustan Construction is to float its hill station subsidiary, Lavasa. Lavasa is a rather newer incarnation of the tradition established during the British Raj of places to escape the lowland heat – India has about 80 hill stations. A more interesting question might be whether or not the existing hill stations that date back to the Raj may also be revived?

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Nora Waln’s House of Exile, Penguin Edition 1933

Posted: July 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Nora Waln was one the first of the ‘girl reporters’ to head to China and once shared a house in with Edna Lee Booker (who I’ve blogged about previously). While in China Waln worked on her novels while reporting for the Atlantic Monthly.  Her reporting on Mongolia was especially interesting for the times when few went there.

Came across a 1933 Penguin edition of her China memoir The House of Exile the other day…

Nora Waln - house of exile cover

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The China Threat: Memories, Myths, and Realities in the 1950s

Posted: July 6th, 2014 | No Comments »

A new book from Nancy Bernkopf Tucker that looks at the larger forces that shaped Eisenhower Administration policy toward China in what was an especially critical moment for US relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan.

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Nancy Bernkopf Tucker confronts the coldest period of the cold war—the moment in which personality, American political culture, public opinion, and high politics came together to define the Eisenhower Administration’s policy toward China. A sophisticated, multidimensional account based on prodigious, cutting edge research, this volume convincingly portrays Eisenhower’s private belief that close relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China were inevitable and that careful consideration of the PRC should constitute a critical part of American diplomacy.
Tucker controversially argues that the Eisenhower Administration’s hostile rhetoric and tough actions toward China obscure the president’s actual views. Behind the scenes, Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, pursued a more nuanced approach, one better suited to China’s specific challenges and the stabilization of the global community. Tucker deftly explores the contradictions between Eisenhower and his advisors’ public and private positions. Her most powerful chapter centers on trade and Eisenhower’s recognition that rigid prohibitions would undermine the global postwar economic recovery and push China into a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Ultimately, Tucker finds Eisenhower’s strategic thinking on Europe and his fear of toxic, anticommunist domestic politics constrained his leadership, making a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward China difficult if not impossible. Consequently, the president was unable to engage congress and the public effectively on China, ultimately failing to realize his own high standards as a leader.

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Arthur Ransome’s Missee Lee Reissued as E-book

Posted: July 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

I’ve blogged about Arthur Ransome’s time in China in the 1920s before (here). For those who haven’t read his one China book, Missee Lee, where the Swallows and Amazons find themselves in the South China Seas it’s now out in e-book form. The Swallows and Amazons finally meet a real pirate – the tiny, pistol-carrying Missee Lee, who has rescued them after their shipwreck off the coast of China. The only trouble is she wants to keep them… for ever.

 

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