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Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World Hardcover – January 7, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
It follows the life of The Honorable Ivor Goldsmid Samuel Montagu, the third son of the 2nd Baron Swaythling, one of the richest man in England. He is the only British aristocrat to receive the Lenin Prize (the communist equivalent to Nobel Prize) for Peace. He created the game of Table Tennis, which he leveraged in communist China, and he was an agent for the Soviet secret service called GRU.
Marcel Proust wrote "the people from bygone ages seem infinitely remote from us. We look at them as animals in a zoo."
We can see a photograph of Ivor Montagu. He looks remote, other worldly as if he was a character in the Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris coming back from the 1920s every day at midnight. A British movie web site describes Ivor as a "producer, writer and director. Communist, aristocrat, son of the banker Lord Swaythling, the Hon. Ivor Montagu was a leading fixture in left-wing film activity in the 1930s."
In Griffin's book, Ivor Montagu comes out of the metaphoric Proustian zoo of the past. Ivor brother, Ewen, was "a rugby player obsessed with breeding cows... good at pretty everything." But Ivor himself "had the desire, but not the talent to be involved." There was only one game he could play, table tennis. Ping Pong was a Cinderella of the sports blossoming around 1904 in Britain. Quoting Griffin:
"Ninety years ago, Montagu revived a sport that really did fit the best and worst of Communism.Read more ›
In his book Griffin presents less known details about this popular sport that united communist and capitalist world while describing many manipulations and cover-ups which with the help or thanks to this sport were made.
Some of them can be seen at the same time tragic like Chinese authorities cover-up of almost 40 million their people starvation with organization of World Table Tennis Championships but in same time historically very important because this tennis table event was reason for President Nixon to visit China after which it was created the term Ping-Pong.
The book particularly discussed in detail the role of one specific person, Ivor Goldsmid Samuel Montagu, a man who lived incredible life of filmmaker, writer, table tennis player and communist spy, who was a founder of the International Table Tennis Federation and man that can be credited China is today a country with the best table tennis players.
Another nation plays also an important role in this book - the Japanese who due to this sport after humiliation and severe destruction that they have experienced at the end of the Second World War received an opportunity to become again an important player in international relations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book. As a former reporter in China, I am really impressed with how the writer obtained interviews with many of the Chinese involved in the epochal ping-pong... Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Pomfret
What a surprisingly good book. Hard to believe that such a seemingly minor sport could have such a huge influence. There is a lot of serious history in the book. Very well written.Published 19 months ago by A. West
I would rate this book higher PROVIDING you are in to both Ping-Pong AND Politics. I learned a great deal but to the average person there is a lot to plow through.Published 20 months ago by Arthur L. Gillman
This is an interesting and complex analysis of the rise of ping pong (table tennis) in the West and its promotion in the East by an English traitor / spy for the Soviets. Read morePublished 22 months ago by bonnie_blu
In this book that traces the history of ping pong, Nicholas Griffin gives us a fascinating peek behind the curtain at some of the 20th century's great rivals. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Derek
I found the book to only be mildly interesting. The most interesting part, as the title and cover suggests, is how the Chinese used ping-pong and sports to advance diplomatic... Read morePublished 23 months ago by sparsh khandeshi