School Library JournalGr 7 Up-To anchor his study in historical context, Kort devotes the first two chapters to the Chinese Empire and the Republican Era respectively-the former to point up the roots of China's problems, the latter to contrast nationalist and communist approaches. The concluding four chapters consider communist rule after 1949. The author cogently details lurches in official policy caused by Mao Zedong's increasing megalomania and the attempts by more practical party members to correct matters each time he brought the nation to the brink of ruin. What will amaze readers is the number of times Mao was allowed to do just that, with no thought to the cost in human lives. Kort's style is lucid and lively, his scholarship impeccable. Black-and-white photographs and lithographs are well chosen and sensibly placed to amplify the text. The book's only flaw is the consistent mistranscription of laogai, China's gulag, as laogoi. That minor quibble aside, this is a balanced, up-to-date, and readable account of modern China.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Jeanne TrinerKort provides a detailed, yet concise history of the Communist movement in China, starting with a brief look at the empire, then guiding readers through the republic, socialist China, and Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, ending with the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping. The author views China as a country perpetually wandering between two worlds, trying to escape the traditions of the past but not quite achieving the future. This theme offers rich opportunities for discussion from both historical and cultural perspectives. The material is well organized and accented with quotes from Chinese leaders and philosophers. The writing is smooth and easy to follow, but the subject matter is difficult. Kort, an expert on the topic, does not write "down" to his readers, which can make the going rough at times. The planned photos and prints will go a long way toward improving comprehension by putting faces on the personalities discussed. This extremely informative account has an excellent index, a helpful glossary, and a solid suggested reading list. Keep it in mind as a good in-a-nutshell overview of the subject.
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