Wu Han, Historian

Wu Han, Historian : Son of China's Times

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Drawing on extensive interviews in China, this biography of the life and times of a key Chinese intellectual, known in China as a major twentieth-century historian and democratic movement participant who cooperated with Communist leaders in the formative years of the People's Republic, carries us to the ironic tragedy of his being targeted by Mao in the opening prelude to the Cultural Revolution. Focusing on Wu Han's life, the biographical narrative depicts the momentous changes in Chinese society and politics during the twentieth century and brings insight to issues of free expression festering in China today.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 530 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 40.64mm | 952.54g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739124560
  • 9780739124567

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 1. A "Rustic" Talent Awakens to His Times Chapter 3 2. Choosing His Own Road Chapter 4 3. Commitment to Ming History Chapter 5 4. Writing the "New History" Chapter 6 5. Waves from May Fourth Chapter 7 6. Social History for the Present Chapter 8 7. Wartime University: From History to Politics Chapter 9 8. Academics and Activism Chapter 10 9. Historian as Radical Chapter 11 10. Toward a New China: A Decision Made Chapter 12 11. Founding New China: Changing a Life Chapter 13 12. The Last Chapter: From Politics to History
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Review quote

While it takes the form of an individual's biography this work treats the reader to a guided tour of Chinese history from the May Fourth Movement in the second decade of the twentieth century to the early post-Mao era in the 1980s. All along the way one sees the relationships between individual intellectuals, institutions, movements, and political events. Ideas, beliefs, and attitudes are contextualized in a rich fabric of personal relationships and changing locales and environments. For anyone who knows anything about the works of Chinese society this book offers innumerable rewarding insights into the way networking and personal politics worked in the middle decades of the twentieth century. -- Edward L. Farmer, University of Minnesota Mazur has tapped a wide range of sources and conducted extensive interviews to provide a vivid biography which captures Wu's life and times and makes riveting reading. It is at its best in describing Wu the historian, and will be widely read by scholars of 20th- century China. The China Journal, January 2010 In this well-researched and well-written intellectual biography, Mary G. Mazur highlights a question that goes far beyond modern Chinese intellectual history:how does a historian balance his or her allegiance to truth about the past with a passion for social action in the present?...This study evokes the quest for historical veracity and its tragic compromise in times of social revolution with compassion as well as a critical eye...Mazur depicts Wu Han's journey from academic historian to public official with detail and narrative verve... She is able to weave into the life of this one historian many of the larger concerns with autonomy, emancipation, and revolution that have animated Chinese intellectuals from 1919 to the present. -- Vera Schwarcz, Wesleyan University American Historical Review, April 2010 The resulting biography is a powerful argument for "lifelong learning."...Her thoughtful and meticulously researched work, drawing imaginatively upon both oral and written sources, enables us to understand a public intellectual in the context of a traumatic era. -- John Israel Pacific Affairs, June 2010 One can say that Mazur has achieved her goal of depicting Wu as he actually lived...Mazur allows us to "see" Wu Han in action, as well as in writing...This book is recommended for both public and university libraries, and especially to readers who need a detailed knowledge of modern Chinese intellectual history. Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online, June 2010 Mazur's carefully researched biography of Wu Han is more than a study of an individual; it is really an intellectual biography of twentieth-century China itself-from Wu Han's initial bookwormish avoidance of politics, to his politicization, to his increasing involvement in United Front activities, and, finally, his purge for writing 'Hai Rui Dismissed from Office.' Wu Han, Historian will be widely read by anyone seeking an understanding of China's revolutionary century. -- Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University Wu Han, Historian, is the result of many years of dedicated and meticulous study of a key figure in the intellectual history of modern China. Not only does this important book examine the personal, social, and historical contexts that produced a man with 20th-century Chinese intellectuals...Most importantly, this learned study emphasizes the crucial, inevitable, and often fatal link between the study of history in modern Chinese society and its political culture. This book is a significant contribution to the field of modern Chinese history, culture, and society. It is a well-written book without jargon. It will be a valuable source to scholars and students of Chinese literature, history, political science and intellectual history. China Quarterly, June 2010 After many years of preparation and the publication of a Chinese language version of the book, Mary Mazur's biography of Wu Han (1909-69) has finally come out in English. The book places prominent historian Wu Han into the stream of 20th- century Chinese history providing us with a mostly well-researched, thoughtful, and highly informative account of an individual going through the twists and turns of his times. The book strikes a good balance between narrating the history as such and focusing on the individual history of Wu Han. It should definitely be on the reading list of undergraduate students specializing in Chinese history. China Information, July 2010
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About Mary G. Mazur

Mary G. Mazur is an independent scholar. She received her Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Chicago.
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