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The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521385916
ISBN-10: 0521385911
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521385911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521385916
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Firstly, I want to endorse the excellent review by Matthew G. Reinert. I have a bit stronger feeling about the imperfection of this book.

Let's start with the title The Nationalist Era in China 1927-1949. Though it is technically accurate, but it may be slightly misleading because it has more contents about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT). For example, the part covering the period 1937-1945 has 55 pages on the KMT vs. 114 pages on the CCP. I think a more appropriate tile would simply be China 1927-1949 or The Rise of the CCP and fall of the KMT 1927-1949.

Though this book is by no means an endorsement of the CCP, and it actually has many comments or facts unfavorable to the CCP, its contents are largely consistent with the history books published in Mainland China that are heavily censored by the CCP. The fact that the book by Lloyd Eastman Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist China in War and Revolution, 1937-1949 is allowed to be translated and published in Mainland China makes me wonder how fair and objective Eastman's works on China are. Even some longtime loyal CCP members have difficulty publishing their works that happen to tell the truth and the whole truth in Mainland China.

For Chinese people, the period 1937-1949 is the most important and fascinating one of Modern China because, during this period, the nation's survival was challenged, 20 million or much more people died, national heroes arose in mass while cowardly traitors were plenty. The overwhelming impression that the book gives about the Nationalists in this period is that they are incompetent, corrupted, divided, unpopular, weak.
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Format: Paperback
This is a thorough if by no means exhaustive account of the Nationalist Period in China. It's organized into five main sections. The first and most useful for westerners is the history of Nationalist China during from 1927 - 1937. It includes the major personalities, economic problems, military problems, and ineptitude of the Nationalist rule. It doesn't just focus on the problems and it does discuss the progress that the GMD made towards uniting and industrializing the country.

This is followed by a similar history for the communists over the same period, covering the expansion of the base areas, their work in the White areas and the internal politicking that was going on.

The next two sections are similar but they talk about China during the war years. The first is about the Nationalist war effort and the problems faced by the government and economy in Free China while the second section focuses on these same questions with regard to the communists.

The final section of the book is devoted to the reopening of the Civil War. It talks about the breakdown in peace talks and in power sharing arrangements leading up to the shooting along with the role that foreign powers played in brokering peace after the Japanese surrender The coverage of battles and offensives is not exhaustive and is delineated by year and by campaign. There is also discussion with regards to foreign aid, domestic support, and hyperinflation.

I have the 1993 edition, so the 1999 one may be slightly different than what I read. In tone, it is very conventional in it's treatment of the reasons for the fall of the Guomindang. Those who have read more recent histories of communist china may cringe at this book's tendency to take PRC statistics at face value.
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