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Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence of Revolutionary China, 1937-1945 Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0804700740 ISBN-10: 0804700745 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804700745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804700740
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter M. Waldvogel on April 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this well written thoughtful work Chalmers Johnson makes a strong case for what he sees as a more accurate approach to Chinese Communist history and the reasons for the success of the CCP where the KMT failed. For those of you who may be wondering how it was possible for the CCP to go from nearly being wiped out in Jiangxi to conquering all of China, this text has many feasible answers. It is also a clear study of the use of social mobilization and Nationalism in communist propaganda in both China and Yugoslavia. Johnson uses many Japanese sources, supporting his claim for the influence of the Japanese invasion of China(1931 or 1937 depending on your point of view) as a leading cause for the success of the CCP. For those who are interested in contemporary Chinese history and Asian geo-politics this book is GREAT! I would recomend it to any student of Asian studies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lynnae Burns on November 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Since the Communist Party took power in 1949 several "theories" have been advanced in an attempt to understand what factors contributed to their success. Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence of Revolutionary China 1937-1945 by Chalmers A. Johnson advances a plausible and scholarly scenario. Johnson contends that a direct line can be drawn between the commencement of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and the Communist Party's ascension in 1949. According to Johnson the Communist Party failed to win popular support through Marxist ideology and economic reforms, and was in decline at the time of the Japanese invasion. The invasion caused a "mass awakening", and Chinese peasants suddenly saw themselves as a nation in the face of a foreign invader. Johnson calls this newfound sense of nationalism "Social Mobilization", and he claims that the Communist Party was the beneficiary of these new nationalistic tendencies.

Johnson gives several reasons why it was the Communist Party that benefited from social mobilization. He contends that the Japanese overextend their forces- taking large swaths of land that they could not occupy effectively. This initial drive pushed out Nationalist troops and civilian authorities- leaving behind a power vacuum. Because the Communist guerilla forces were more mobile they were able to enter these chaotic regions and provide organization and guidance for the peasantry. Additionally, Johnson argues that the Japanese identified the Communists as the primary enemy while the Kuomintang was courted as potential friends. This strengthened Communist claims that the Kuomintang were "collaborators", and increased Communist Party legitimacy in the eyes of many peasants.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Davey on August 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book, well worth reading, and considered by many to be a "classic" amongst the Chinese Revolution literature. Although dated, it is still an important read for anyone endeavoring to fully comprehend the Chinese Communist victory in 1949. In this book, Chalmers Johnson argues that the peasants' nationalist orientation, in response to the Japanese invasion, underpinned the Communist Party's success. In other words, he contends that a peasant nationalist movement established the Chinese state, rather than a socialist one, and that nationalism outweighed other factors that may have also played a role.

Johnson supports his theory with two main lines of evidence; first, he argues that the Japanese occupation was a major factor because prior to invasion (the Jiangxi Soviet of the 1920s and 30s), the Party's land reform policies and Marxist-Leninist ideology did not win enough support. Johnson explains that the Communist Party's anti-Japanese response was considered, in rural areas, to be more successful than the Kuomintang's activities. Consequently, when the Japanese were defeated, a large proportion of the rural population (particularly in former occupied areas where Japanese savagery was witnessed first-hand) supported overwhelmingly the CCP during the civil war. According to this view, the term Communist was perhaps synonymous with the word patriot; thus joining the Communists was viewed as patriotic resistance to the Japanese. Second, Johnston compared the CCP victory with another nationalist victory, in former Yugoslavia, in which the German invasion was crucial for Communist success (comparisons were made between the resistance party in that country and the strategy of the CCP).
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