When the People's Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, the balance of power in Asia was irrevocably changed. Ever since, democratic America has been obliged to contend with a Communist colossus whose world objectives are diametrically opposed to its own--how to deal with a leader, Mao Zedong, who once said, "Let 400 million Chinese die and 300 million will be left"? This book is no dry history; the author describes how easily escalating tensions over Taiwan could involve the USA in a major war today. Trained as an investigative journalist, Patrick Tyler is a marvelous writer, combining shrewd diplomatic analysis with deft descriptions of the protagonists, many of whom he saw in action when he was New York Times bureau chief in Beijing. His cast of characters includes the greatest political figures of the day, from Mao and Gorbachev to six American presidents, beginning with Nixon, whose bold knocking opened China's door, and ending with Clinton's gamely attempting to balance America's commercial interests with human rights issues. Tyler's personal experience and formidable research, including 15,000 pages of newly declassified documents, produce gems such as Brezhnev's attempt to run off with a briefcase belonging to an American negotiator visiting the men's room, and the shocking picture of Kissinger passing national secrets to Chinese officials. A Great Wall is a highly readable account of relations between the world's most powerful and the world's most populous nations and their momentous implications for the new millennium. --John Stevenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In this book, Tyler (former Beijing bureau chief for the New York Times) utilizes his expertise as an investigative reporter to describe how six presidential administrations (Nixon to Clinton) dealt with China. Through transcripts and interviews with people who worked in these administrations, Tyler very loosely reconstructs the sequence of U.S.-China relations, but he obviously prefers assessing power relations among "the presidents' men" to analyzing the presidential role. For example, he describes Kissinger's maneuvering and details just how Carter aide BrzezinskiA"whose ego stood like a pompadour over his sharp features"Acompeted with Holbrooke, who "tried to stick the knife in with as much delicacy as possible." Compared to Leonard Kusnitz's Public Opinion and Foreign Policy (1984), this book does a poor job of identifying the presidential role in foreign policy. Also, in contrast to foreign correspondents Nicholas Kristof and Sherye Wudunn (China Wakes, LJ 7/94), Tyler's is a study in mere trivialities (for example, he presents as fact Mao's supposed sexual attraction to President Ford's blonde-haired, 16-year-old daughter, Susan). Not recommended.APeggy Sitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A great piece by Patrick Tyler who makes sure that readers can understand the fascinating contemporary Sino-US relationship.Published 10 months ago by RR
For the casual China reader, this book is a fun read, with lots of entertaining antecdotes. It gives a good basic background on Sino-American relations. Read morePublished on July 1, 2003 by H. Huggins
Spasmodically researched, abominably written, and distastefully biased, Tyler's "Great Wall" is a slog of a read. Read morePublished on September 4, 2001 by C. Mann
While much of the material discussed in "A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China" is questionable in nature, one comment from the book's jacket lining puts everything into... Read morePublished on October 26, 2000 by Brandon Meyer
Some interesting nuggets here and there of new information that Tyler has turned up, but otherwise most of the info here can be found elsewhere. Read morePublished on November 11, 1999