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The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution Paperback – October 28, 1982


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 28, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140062793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140062793
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for The Gate of Heavenly Peace:
 
“Absolutely first rate; it is adventurous in form, scrupulous in content, passionate in its revelation of complex human drama.”
Saturday Review
 
“[Jonathan Spence] has woven a magical symphony that tells us as no conventional history could of the agony of a nation in awesome labor.”
—Harrison E. Salisbury, Chicago Tribune Book World
 
“With a novelist’s flair for life and a historian’s grounding in fact . . . there is no other work to match this in sweep, vivacity, and humanity.”
Library Journal

About the Author

Jonathan Spence's eleven books on Chinese history include The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Treason by the Book, and The Death of Woman Wang. His awards include a Guggenheim and a MacArthur Fellowship. He teaches at Yale University.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Reader on March 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book by Spence is a remarkable and unique description of the Chinese political and social revolution that took place from the end days of the Empire until decades into the PRC. Instead of focusing on already well documented and researched historical figures such as Sun Yatsen and Mao Zedong, Spence provides us the opportunity to look at the "other" figures that greatly shaped the transformation of China yet never heard of by most people. Figures such as Lu Xun, Ding Ling, Hu Shi, Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao, etc...Spence does focus a lot on names and dates as the reviewer below notes, but it's not something people should cringe about. Spence's main goal was to focus on individual ideas and the transformation of intellectual thought and this, I thought, was acheived very well. One thing I have a problem with is that Spence focuses almost exclusively from the 1890's to the early 1930's. The last 50 years of intellectual thought which this book claim to cover is very sparse and almost non-existant, and I guess either the author overextended himself or probably because possessing intellectual thought during the PRC era was not very conducive to one's health. Anyway, this book is nevertheless an excellent source for understanding Chinese poltical and social thought during the early 20th century.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Dow on June 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
A brilliant evocation of 85 years of modern Chinese history. It has been said by some critics that this is a book to read for research and not for pleasure -- an opinion I would call a neat inversion of the true situation (as I saw it, anyway): I bought the book as a research tool and, though I soon found I couldn't use it for that purpose, became utterly engrossed in Spence's fascinating narrative all the same. If you're a lover of well-written biographical history, buy this book.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Yorkshire@earthlink.net on May 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
Contrary to its nomenclature, The Gate of Heavenly Peace is rather the proscenium for revolutionary dramas in the quest for that state of grace. Throughout this century it has been the stage for countless demonstrations, violent political struggles, bloodshed and victory parades. Jonathan Spence gives us a rare look at the political history of modern China from 1895 through the 20th century to 1980 through the eyes of scholars and philosophers. An extraordinary and interesting introduction to circumstances and conditions, revolutionary thought and actions evolving through the decades. From factors leading to the fall of the Qing dynasty, the restless struggles of leading revolutionary factions vying for cooperation of powerful warlords and foreign powers, and the inroads made by Japan into China--virtual industrial economic colonization with Japanese military support - to the eventual victory of Mao Zedong, the ingenious telling of China's turbulent history through the lives and thoughts of the leading philosophers and writers of the day makes for a refreshing initiation to Chinese history without being bombarded with political dogma and rhetoric. Well worth reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sugunan on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Spanning the years 1895-1980, this is a splendid study of some prominent members of China's intellectual elite during a turbulent period of the country's history. China of the early years of the century is portrayed as a Dostoevskian world of anarchists and nihilists, poets and novelists, philosophers and artists, whose ideas and art are inextricably entwined with the political fortunes of the nation- through the years of Manchu rule, the Hundred Days Reform, the period of the warlords, and later through the many movements instituted after the Communist Revolution. Through it all the Chinese intellectual struggles with the tensions of his political, artistic and individual identities, and the book - with generous quotations of poems, novels and essays, and also some haunting photographs - brings home this tension in a poignant manner. This is history ennobled by literature and philosophy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a brilliant examination of the lives of several key players in the Chinese Revolution. It is written in a narrative biographical style that is helped along (beautifully, I might add) with some of the contemporary literature of that time.
I think this book might be hard to use as a research tool, but I was completely engrossed in it as a wonderful book to enjoy to widen my understanding of the Chinese Revolution.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zhen Tao on March 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
The struggle between conservatives and liberals is and has been universal. The Chinese revolutionaries are extremely radical even by Western standards. Dr. Spence captures the spirit of these people even though most of their words had to be translated from Chinese. The English version of the quoted writings, speeches, and casual conversations are accurate and present vividly the progressiveness of these liberal intellectuals. The author also ties one hundred years of history into one seamless flow of development. Issues regarding women, political reform, and marriage are discussed throughout the book, forming a coherent platform for the big cast of actors. Wonderful Writing!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book's quality is very good although it's an used book and the price is so cheap. I love it overall.
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