A Bitter Revolution

A Bitter Revolution : China's Struggle with the Modern World

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Description

China is now poised to take a key role on the world stage, but in the early twentieth century the situation could not have been more different. Rana Mitter goes back to this pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from a premodern past into a modern world. By the 1920s the seemingly civilized world shaped over the last two thousand years by the legacy of the great philosopher Confucius was falling apart in the face of western imperialism and internal warfare. Chinese cities still bore the imprints of its ancient past with narrow, lanes and temples to long-worshipped gods, but these were starting to change with the influx of foreign traders, teachers, and missionaries, all eager to shape China's ancient past into a modern present. Mitter takes us through the resulting social turmoil and political promise, the devastating war against Japan in the 1940s, Communism and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, and the new era of hope in the 1980s ended by the Tian'anmen uprising. He reveals the impetus behind the dramatic changes in Chinese culture and politics as being China's "New Culture" - a strain of thought which celebrated youth, individualism, and the heady mixture of strange and seductive new cultures from places as far apart as America, India, and Japan.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 162.6 x 236.2 x 38.1mm | 725.76g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • numerous halftones
  • 0192803417
  • 9780192803412

Table of contents

PROLOGUE; Tian'anmen Square, 1989; 1. Flashpoint - Beijing, May Fourth, 1919; 2. Saving the Nation: the era of the May Fourth Movement; 3. Erasing the past: iconoclasm and the destruction of tradition; 4. Ugly Chinamen and Dead Rivers; 5. Making a stand: the lure and limits of democracy; EPILOGUE; The Legacy of May Fourthshow more

About Rana Mitter

Rana Mitter is Lecturer in the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St. Cross College. In addition to many books and journal articles, Mitter has contributed to documentaries on the History Channel and is involved in a forthcoming documentary on Kublai Khan.show more

Review quote

an impressive and inventively researched book Jonathan Fenby, FT Magazineshow more

Review Text

On May 4th 1919 3,000 students demonstrated in Tiananmen Square and burned down government minister Cao Rulin's house. They were protesting the refusal of the Paris Peace Conference to return the German colonies to China. Rana Mitter goes back to this pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the long and painful transition from premodern past to modern, post-industrial society. Humiliated and (worse) occupied by the European superpowers and by their neighbour Japan, the Chinese were smarting from the failed Boxer Rebellion, even the disastrous Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century. Mitter takes us through the resulting social turmoil and high political hopes, the devastating war against Japan in the 30s and 40s, the eventual victory of communism, the Cultural Revolution and the new era of hope which dawned in the 1980s, only to be blighted by another uprising in Tiananmen Square. He reveals the impetus behind the dramatic changes in Chinese culture and politics - a new dynamism which celebrates youth, individualism and (ironically) the seductive neo-imperialist influence of America, Japan and India. Everything you want to know about twentieth century China in one, relatively short and authoritative book. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

107 ratings
3.59 out of 5 stars
5 13% (14)
4 43% (46)
3 36% (38)
2 7% (8)
1 1% (1)
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