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Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – July 16, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679643478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643470
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Superb . . . beautifully written and neatly structured.”Financial Times

“[An] engaging narrative of the intellectual and cultural origins of China’s modern rise.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Informative and insightful . . . a must-read for anyone with an interest in the world’s fastest-rising superpower.”Slate
 
“It does a better job than most other books of answering a basic question the rest of the world naturally asks about China’s recent rise: What does China want?”The Atlantic
 
“The portraits are beautifully written and bring to life not only their subjects but also the mood and intellectual debates of the times in which they lived.”Foreign Affairs
 
“Excellent and erudite . . . [The authors] combine scholarly learning with a reportorial appreciation of colorful, revealing details.”The National Interest

“I know there are lots of China history books these days, but this one is really well done. It tells the story with lots of interesting historical characters and deep insights into the country. Really worth reading.”—Fareed Zakaria (Book of the Week)

“In a provocative new book whose ideas have already begun stirring debate among China watchers, Orville Schell and John Delury argue that the quest for national rejuvenation, or for wealth and power, has long been at the heart of modern Chinese political and intellectual thought.”The New York Times
 
“I highly recommend Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-first Century, an excellent new book from Orville Schell and John Delury. The book goes a long way to explaining what drives the current leadership, and why betting against their resolve to reform may be risky in the medium to long term.”—Bill Bishop, The New York Times

Wealth and Power offers everything readers might expect from its two eminent authors. It is both sweeping and specific, authoritative and lively, sympathetic and critical, offering the perspective of both the hedgehog and the fox. The hardest challenge in writing about China, or finding things to read about it, is perceiving significant patterns while remaining aware of the chaos and contradictions. Orville Schell and John Delury meet that challenge in exemplary form. I only wish that they'd written the book years ago, so that (along with other readers) I could have been taking advantage of its insights all along.”—James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic
 
“Orville Schell and John Delury have delivered a brilliantly original and essential book: the road map to China’s quest for national salvation. This is a story of ideas and the vibrant figures who shaped them: rebels, thinkers, and rivals, united by the quest for reinvention. It is required reading for anyone seeking to understand China’s motives and the future of global competition, and is, quite simply, a pleasure to read. Vivid, literate, and brimming with insights, Wealth and Power deserves to become a classic.”—Evan Osnos, China correspondent, The New Yorker
 
“In Wealth and Power, their crisp and comprehensive introduction to the history of modern China, historians Orville Schell and John Delury present us with the historical background we need to understand the driving mechanism that lies at the center of China today. By no longer presenting China’s past two centuries as a record of recurrent failures and humiliations, they give us a portrait of a nation in the making, and of leaders with the skills and determination to redirect China’s energies on a global scale. The change of perspective is valuable and challenging.”—Jonathan D. Spence, author of The Search for Modern China

About the Author

Orville Schell was educated at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley and is the author of numerous books and articles on China. The former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley, he is presently the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York City.
 
John Delury received his Ph.D. in modern Chinese history at Yale University, where he wrote his dissertation on the Ming-Qing Confucian scholar Gu Yanwu. He taught at Brown, Columbia, and Peking University, and was associate director of Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. He is currently an assistant professor of East Asian studies at Yonsei University in Seoul.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Well written and easy to read.
John W. Weil
I inhaled this book and frankly, I am looking forward to rereading, just for enjoyment.
Happy Vegan
This book helped me to better understand China's place in today's world.
Richard Karn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"From 'Our technology is not as good as other people's,' to 'Our political system is not as good as other people's,' and on to 'Our culture is not as good as other people's,' Chinese reflections on our own defects probed ever deeper. But the primary mind-set that guided the probing was neither 'liberation of humanity,' nor even 'enriching people,' but rather a sense of shame at China's loss of sovereignty and other national humiliations."

These words of Nobel Prize winning dissident, Liu Xiaobo, give a rather neat summary of the arguments put forward in this fascinating and thought-provoking study of the Chinese psyche over the last 150 years or so, as evidenced and influenced by its greatest intellectuals, writers and leaders. The aim of the authors is to shed some light on how, in the last three decades, China has risen out of the poverty and political turmoil of the preceding century to become one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world.

The authors show how the encroachment of the Western empires and defeats at the hands of enemies within and without led, not just to the fall of the empire at the beginning of the twentieth century, but to the creation of a national mind-set that has kept the aim of achieving 'wealth and power' at the heart of Chinese politics ever since. The succession of military defeats and subsequent 'unequal treaties', which forced China to pay punitive reparations and give territory and access to foreign states, led to a spirit of 'national humiliation'. Far from allowing this to become a negative factor, however, successive intellectuals and leaders used it as a spur to galvanise China into a process of 'self-strengthening'.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By H. P. on July 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Wealth and Power follows Chinese history from the Opium Wars to today. Modern Chinese history is generally considered to have begun with the Treaty of Nanjing at the close of the first Opium War. Schell and Delury see special significance is using that first great humiliation of China at the hands of the modern world as the starting point, central to a thesis they use to explore Chinese history through its intellectual history. Roughly, that thesis is that modern Chinese history is best understood as a reaction to its modern humiliation, the desire to strengthen itself and overcome that humiliation by achieving "wealth and power," and the tension that created with traditional Confucianism. The underlying intellectual tension in modern Chinese history then, is between conservative family-centric thinking and conservative state-centric thinking. It's thinking that dates back to the old conflict between Confucians and the Legalists, philosophical adversaries to the Confucians whose mantra was Wealth and Power. It's a conflict that predates and leaves precious little room for classical liberalism or even Marxism.

In service of this thesis, Schell and Delury dispense with a traditional narrative history in favor of focusing on 11 "iconic intellectuals and leaders, reformers and revolutionaries." The 11 are: Wei Yuan (born in 1794, died in 1857), Feng Guifen (1809-1874), the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), Liang Qichao (1873-1929), Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925), Chen Duxiu (1879-1942), Chiang Kai-Shek (1887-1975), Mao Zedong (1893-1976), Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997), Zhu Rongji (1928-), and Liu Xiaobo (1955-).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the 19th century, efforts to efface national humiliation (until then, China had one of the world's largest economies) and restore China to wealth and power had largely focused on how the West's military technology and economic techniques might be harnessed by China. The early 20th century brought questioning of the wisdom of maintaining its traditional Confucian culture. Mao then pursued destroying China's old core with violent and total resolve (his Cultural Revolution), but also stubbornly squelched anything resembling the practice of capitalism. Nonetheless, the authors contend he may have helped prepare the way for successor Deng Xiaoping to usher in a spectacular new kind of economic growth. The authors also tell us China's leaders were totally pragmatic (it was not ideology driven) about choosing their way, and democracy has not appeared to be the most effective route forward.

Now, after weathering a century and a half of domestic rebellion and foreign aggression, China has learned how to borrow effectively from the West. Deng Xiaoping struck the spark that lit China's rejuvenation by telling his people in the 1980s that it 'to get rich is glorious' and it was 'all right for some people to get rich first.' Hu Jintao (handpicked by Deng, among others) reinforced that progress when he told visitors from Taiwan in 2005 that 'Backwardness incurs beatings by others,' and 'the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has become the unswerving goal that each Chinese generation has striven to realize.' More recently, President Xi Jinping's first speeches as General Secretary in 2013 once again referred to this period of Chinese history.

The authors address the question of why China's economic dynamist began when it did, and has been as successful and durable as it has.
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