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At the Dawn of the New China: An American Diplomat's Eyewitness Account Paperback – January 1, 2005
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Readers interested in the development of U.S.-China relations will be fascinated -- and entertained -- by this book. Large strategic and foreign policy considerations moved China and the United States to establish relations. It was left to Foreign Service Officers such as Richard Williams and his team to make it all work -- first by setting up a new Foreign Service post, then by issuing visas, establishing commercial relations, traveling through China to report on local conditions, introducing the Big Mac, and escorting the first waves of American visitors.
Americans who know the more open China of the twenty-first century will, in this book, encounter the China making its first hesitant steps toward modernization and reform. The difficulties confronted by early official travelers, the lingering suspicion of America, the obfuscation of officials high and low, and the choices made by Foreign Service families before there were international schools are all described. Williams' wife Jane had left Tianjin as a girl; her reunions with family members in the PRC add poignant touches to the book.
This is a fine book for any young person thinking about a Foreign Service career. Although almost three decades have passed since Richard Williams and his family opened the post in Guangzhou, "At the Dawn of the New China" captures much of the enduring qualities of Foreign Service life.
And it goes way beyond that. By including declassified diplomatic cables and newspaper accounts, Williams situates his personal experiences in the wider perspective of what was happening with China globally and Sino-American relations in particular. He combines a touching family saga with an in-depth portrait of a China on the brink of historic change.
benchmark perspective on the amazing transformation that's taking
place in China. And it's the first book I've come across that
actually helps me solve the mystery of just what it is our diplomats
are trying to do for us out there in the trenches.
I myself was the child of an expat living in Asia around the same time and the book brought me back to my childhood and memories of growing up in a foreign land.