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A History of the Modern Chinese Army First Edition Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0813124384
ISBN-10: 0813124387
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Editorial Reviews

Review

""Xiaobing Li has added a most useful study to the growing literature on the People's Liberation Army of China. In more than a decade of research and careful mining of sources, Li has written a comprehensive chronological study but also a thematically intriguing one. He situates the PLA in Chinese society and shows the various sociopolitical influences that have impacted the military as an institution. This is a novel approach. Li's study deserves wide readership in the China studies community and among China security specialists." --avid Shambaugh, editor of Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics" --



""A superb job in producing the first comprehensive history in English on the development of the Chinese military. The study is supported by extensive research on Chinese sources made available in the past two decades. It explains the implications of China's military modernization in the twenty-first century. It is highly revealing and highly recommended." --Chen Jian, author of Mao's China and the Cold War" --



""A superb volume that will be a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the Chinese armed forces. This study is at once an operational history and a political history, as well as an institutional history of a military about which much too little is understood. The interviews and the human dimensions of the narrative put the 'people' back into the People's Liberation Army." --David M. Finkelstein, coeditor of Chinese Warfighting: The PLA Experience since" --



""A splendid account of the origin and development of one of China's most important institutions, told through the histories of its rank and file soldiers, its ambitious young officer corps and the party that ultimately controls it. Professor Li situates the army firmly inside Chinese society and culture, analyzing the ways in which it both responded to and shaped the changing world around it. Lis study is prodigiously researched, clearly and persuasively argued, and indispensable to anyone who desires to understand China today." --Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990" --



""This excellent and well-written survey of the PLA and its role in contemporary China belongs in every college library." --C. J. Weeks, Southern Polytechnic State University" --



""Li Xiabing's new history marks a major achievement in the study of the Chinese Communist armed forces, collectively known as the People's Liberation Army, or the PLA, primarily for the simple reason that there has been a glaring shortage of anything readable in the Western languages on the inner logic and historical evolution of the PLA. A PLA soldier himself, Li has unique advantages in producing such an impressive tome. First of all, he has gathered a large and unparalleled pool of primary and secondary sources, Chinese or otherwise, for writing this book. The result is a well-researched, richly documented book that adds authenticity to many of its claims. Secondly, Li's prior service in the PLA has clearly given him an intimate perspective on the social life and cultural transformation of the PLA, which makes the book unique in that it is the first attempt in a Western language to reveal the history of the PLA as "a soldier's story." --Yu Maochun, United States Naval Academy" --



""China has come a long way since the days of the Cold War when they posed an unlikely threat. You won't find a better primer on this new global force." --HBC" --



""Named one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles in its January 2008 issue."--Choice" --



""This book will be of benefit to all those interested in PLA institutional history, PLA operational history, PLA transformation through the years, and the political history of the People's Republic. It provides much information, some of it unique, about many significant events and developments. I recommend it to those interested in China, its military, and its relations with the rest of the world." Gary J. Blige, Journal of Military History" --



""A History of the Modern Chinese Army is a crucial first step for English-langauge history of the PLA. Viewed in light of China's steadily ascending military spending, paired with the growing shadow cast on the world stage, this is a compelling and informative read for scholars of Asian history and the general public alike." Jonathan D. Thomas, The American Graduate" --



""A... clear portrayal of the reasons behind, the limitations on, and the effects of Chinese military reforms under the People's Republic." --Pacific Affrairs" --



""Professor Xiaobing Li has done us a great service with this contribution. Among the conclusions that we can draw from this book are that China's military remains behind in its evolution in spite of many years of efforts at modernization, and that its dependence on foreign expertise, particularly Russian, continues." --On Track" --



""Professor Li belongs to an indispensable and distinct group of scholars that has emerged in the post-Mao period….Their contribution to our understanding of the PLA, a force that will require our increasing attention, cannot be ignored." --On track" --



""Li does an credible job of walking the fine line of the elaborate charade of the creation of an "independent" modern developmental state."--The China Journal" --

About the Author

Xiaobing Li, professor of history and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is coauthor of Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers. He served in the People's Liberation Army in China.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813124387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813124384
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,284,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on October 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Xiaobing Li, a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, sets out to write a social history of the transformation of China's People's Liberation Army (which includes the air force and navy, as well) between 1949 and the present. Although the author presents no real thesis - other than his recognition that the PLA has evolved from a poorly-educated, low-technology force into a better-educated, moderate to high technology force - his intent is to provide insight into Chinese military transformation. The author also cites the lack of access to Chinese sources as hindering previous histories of the PLA. On the whole, this book has some interesting sections with some new information here and there, but it generally fails to accomplish its objectives. Social military histories - such as John A. Lynn's The Bayonets of the Republic (1984) or Samuel F. Scott's studies of the French Army - usually rely on extensive demographic information, but Dr. Li's book has no charts or appendices. While he does incorporate several new Chinese first-person accounts to buttress his narrative, they ultimately provide only anecdotal insight, not a comprehensive look at the Chinese military. In essence, this book is a case of someone marketing the fact that he has first-hand experience of a particular subject, but who failed to conduct the actual research to support a theory that he never puts forth.

This history is divided into nine chapters, with the first quarter of the book focused on the pre-1949 period. The author begins discussing military traditions in Chinese history but shoots himself in the foot by citing Disney's Mulan as "an accurate depiction." Normally, serious scholarly work in military history avoids using cartoons for references.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an EXCELLENT book - tremendously well researched and written and extremely timely. Once I picked it up I read it cover to cover.

Professor Xiaobing Li is extremely well qualified to author a book on the modern Chinese Army. Professor of History and Director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, he has authored a previous book on the Chinese Army in the Korean War and served in China's People's Liberation Army.

Beginning with the Chinese Revolution, Professor Li discusses the various stages in the development of the PLA. He writes, for example, that more than 2.3 million Chinese troops participated in the Korean War supported by another 800,000 non-combatant volunteers. The Chinese suffered more than one million casualties, inclusing 152,000 dead.

Anyone interested in how the Chinese military would sieze Taiwan has only to read the chapter on Russianizing the PLA. Professor Li provides unparalleled insights into Chinese joint amphibious planning and operations to seize Taiwan and its surrounding islands. I was left with little doubt, at the conclusion of this chapter, that if the Chinese apply themselves to the seizure of Taiwan they will succeed - and quickly!

Li also discusses China's war with India in 1962, (resulting in more than 10,000 casualties between the two sides), and Vietnam, between 1965 and 1970 (resulting in some 65,000 casualties) and the PLA's border clashes with Soviet troops between 1969 and 1971.

More importantly, he provides detailed biographical information on key Chinese civilian and military leaders up to the present day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is an interesting read for those seeking to learn a little more about recent Chinese military history. However, the author does express some bias in his attitudes, which are easy enough to overlook. The focus of this book is on the political side of Chinese military history, and only superficially delves into the evolution of strategic principles. There is very little material on tactics, equipment, training, or development.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent Chinese Military History Survey!
Li’s book provides a solid historical survey of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, China’s armed forces, which include the army, navy, air force, and strategic missile force) from 1927, when it was founded, to the 2000s. Li points out that, as a relatively young army in Asia, the PLA acts according to its own consistent inner logic in its military affairs. Li’s view offers a better understanding of Chinese strategic issues and operational behaviors and identifies some general patterns among the generations that faced varied social conditions and made different choices.

I’ve found this book as proven most useful in several areas of my research on the Chinese armed forces.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Much has been written about China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). Much of these works has focused on either uniforms, equipment, or a brief history of its involvement in the Korean War. However, anyone really interested in a first rate history of the PLA should seriously look at Xiaobing Li's “A History of the Modern Chinese Army”. Xiaobing Li is currently a professor of history at the University of Central Oklahoma, and has once served in the ranks of the PLA. His work is wroth reading because it fill many of the “gaps” usually found in other works on the subject. These gaps are those aspects about the PLA that were either missing from other works, or briefly touched upon that one could have easily overlooked. Before going into detail, let's examine the book's layout in detail.
Xiaobing Li's book was published in 2007 by the University Press of Kentucky. It is 413 pages in length, divided into nine chapters with a conclusion. However, there are over a hundred pages of notes, a bibliography, and an index. Some photographs and maps are included, and these are simplified layouts clearly describing military movements on a theater level (e.g. Korea or the South China Sea). Having described the layout, now let's proceed on what makes this book stand out from the others.
One of these is a recurring theme about the composition of the PLA. Xiaobing Li clearly described how the PLA evolved from a peasant army of six million men to a professional, high tech, army of two million. Even more interesting was the fact that the bulk of the army were peasant farmers who were either illiterate or have only a primary school education. Many have joined the PLA because it afforded them the sense of security lacking in those turbulent times. That security was both political and economic.
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