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A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 (Asia Pacific Modern) Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“A rich and focused work that will appeal to anyone interested in the ways that the concept of the modern nation is shaped by the histories of science, soulstealing, society, and sentiment.”
(New Bks In East Asian Stds 2011-12-22)

"Tong Lam's rich and provocative [study] should be of interest to all scholars of China."
(Sigrid Schmalzer American Historical Review 2013-01-20)

"Readers will find A Passion for Facts compellingly written, thoroughly researched, and thought-provoking."
(Maggie Clinton, Middlebury College The China Beat 2012-06-21)

"[A] rich, persuasive study."
(Robert Culp Cross-Currents 2013-03-01)

"Ingenious. . . . Scholars of China as well as scholars outside that field will find much of interest in [Lam's] book."
(Q. Edward Wang Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2013-07-01)

"[A] rich and sensitive exploration of social knowledge production in modern China. . . . Lam’s intensive and engaging book . . . inspires readers to think of more questions and thus opens more topics for future research."
(Yu-ling Huang East Asian Science, Technology and Society 2013-05-01)

"This is an important book. It is well researched, concisely written, and intellectually ambitious. . . . Lam’s excellent book deserves to be widely read."
(Fati Fan The Journal of Asian Studies 2013-05-01)

"An engaging study. . . . It is a major contribution to our understanding of the multifarious processes of nationbuilding."
(Jennifer E. Altehenger The China Quarterly 2013-06-01)

From the Inside Flap

“This fascinating book is a fundamental contribution to the global history of social science. Tong Lam demonstrates how Chinese reformers struggled to build a modern society on a foundation of facts and statistics. Their ambitions were no mere dream, but were made real in a prodigious social survey movement which aimed as much to enlighten peasants as to inform administrators.” —Theodore Porter, author of Trust in Numbers

“Lam’s approach is highly original. A Passion for Facts presents an impressive host of new material from Chinese and American archives that challenges interpretations of China and Chinese exceptionalism or independent development. Lam makes a compelling argument that the techniques developed in the early twentieth century and refined over several decades have been critical to state-building in China.” —James L. Hevia, author of English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth Century China

“Lam supersedes the current ‘China-centered approach’ and the earlier framework that explained ‘modern China’ in light of global colonialism. He illuminates how the search for ‘facts’ empowered modern Chinese to reimagine their social and political realities in a global colonial context.” —Benjamin A. Elman, Chair, East Asian Studies Department, Princeton University

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