John K. Fairbank (1907–1991) was an American sinologist. His final book was China: A New History.


History on the Wing

Golden Inches: The China Memoir of Grace Service

edited by John S. Service
Golden Inches is a charming memoir of an American couple who built up the YMCA in Chengtu and Chungking. Their careers on America’s farthest Western cultural frontier in Szechwan province give us a sense of the day-to-day texture of Chinese-American relations during the golden age between 1905 and 1935. America …

From the Ming to Deng Xiaoping

The Search for Modern China

by Jonathan D. Spence
When I began teaching Chinese history at Harvard in 1936 my first students turned out to be the brightest I would ever have—Theodore White as an undergraduate and Mary Clabaugh as a Ph.D. candidate. Mary Clabaugh was a Vassar graduate from Tuscaloosa who came to study international history but turned …

Why China’s Rulers Fear Democracy

Government in China is still elitist, not electoral. Behind the Tiananmen massacre of June 1989 lies the continuing modern conflict between the two wings of China’s political elite—the power-holders over the Party and army, on the one hand, and the intellectuals and student trainees for government service on the other hand.

Keeping up with the New China

Discos and Democracy: China in the Throes of Reform

by Orville Schell

Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience

edited by Geremie Barmé, edited by John Minford
The Chinese modernization effort of recent years is on so titanic a scale that it is hard to grasp. Can China switch from a command economy to a free market in goods, capital, people, and even ideas? If so, can Party dictatorship survive? A period of railway and city building, …

Roots of Revolution

Ancestors: 900 Years in the Life of a Chinese Family

by Frank Ching

Half of Man Is Woman

by Zhang Xianliang, translated by Martha Avery
The books by Frank Ching and Zhang Xianliang are vastly different in content, aim, and style, as opposite as yang and yin. Yet each casts light on the Cultural Revolution. Considered together, they may even begin to explain it. Mao’s venomous “class struggle” against his own Communist party’s elite in …

Born Too Late

The Last Emperor

a film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Twilight in the Forbidden City (1973), out of print

by Reginald F. Johnston. with a preface by the Emperor
The Last Emperor is a spectacular film photographed in brilliant color. It is also a moral drama with controversial political overtones of great ambiguity. It spans sixty years of history, between the Manchu dynasty’s final decrepitude and the disaster of the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic. It leaves us …

The Chinese Behemoth

The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-Century China

by Frederic Wakeman Jr.

The Chinese Emperor

by Jean Lévi, translated by Barbara Bray
The fact that history, like childhood, helps to account for what happens later doesn’t do us much good in the case of China, since Chinese history remains largely unavailable. The apparent success of the “Big Thirteenth” Congress of the Chinese Communist party in October 1987 doesn’t explain the mystery of …