Mosher, one of the first Westerners allowed to live in a Chinese village in the 1970s, has no illusions. He shows that before the 1989 massacre of students in Tiananmen Square, China experienced the Terror of 1950-1953 which cost millions of lives, the countrywide search-and-destroy missions that went under the name of ``land reform,'' the 40-year nightmare of purges and arrests. In an eye-opening polemic as tonic as a cold shower, he lambasts China-watchers, foreign policy experts, politicians, newspaper correspondents and academics who have idealized, romanticized or otherwise misrepresented China over the years. In this category he includes John Fairbank, Edgar Snow, Theodore White, Henry Kissinger, Pearl Buck, Tom Hayden. Director of the Claremont Institute's Asian Studies Center, Mosher blasts Nixon's 1972 visit to China in an election year as ``poltiical theater on a grand scale.'' His illuminating analysis reveals how the U.S. media, having treated Chinese dissidents as a ``sideshow'' for decades, were unprepared for the recent crackdown on protesters. (Nov.)
American views of China over the past 50 years have oscillated between exaggerated fears and excessive enthusiasms. In his acerbic review of the academic and journalistic literature on China, conservative scholar Mosher contends that the left-liberal establishment has consistently gotten China wrong. Attacking the credulity and fatuousness of the China studies profession, he undoubtedly hits quite a few legitimate targets, but his polemic is too sweeping and undifferentiated. He fails to get at the roots of the misperceptions he discovers. Mosher himself, unfairly expelled from Stanford's anthoropology doctoral program on questionable charges of professional misconduct, understandably nurses a grudge against the China studies establishment. This book is his revenge, but it is no less worth reading and pondering by a community that has in fact too often gotten China wrong.-- Steven I. Levine, Duke Univ., Durham, N.C.