Embattled Glory: Veterans, Military Families, and the Politics of Patriotism in China, 1949D2007

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Overview

This groundbreaking book offers the first in-depth, large-scale study of People's Liberation Army (PLA) veterans and military families. Neil J. Diamant's penetrating examination of the treatment of PLA veterans in China opens a distinctive window onto Chinese patriotism, citizenship, and legitimacy. Using recently declassified archival documents and employing a comparative perspective, the book provides an unprecedented look at the "everyday interactions" among veterans, military families, state officials, and ordinary citizens as they attempted to secure urban residence, jobs, spouses, medical care, and respect as patriots.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Political and Military History
Taking on a highly important and yet much neglected topic, Niel J. Diamant's new book...sheds light on larger questions regarding the legitimacy of war, patriotism, and nationalism in China. This...ambitious work...paints a sophisticated picture of the difficulties Chinese veterans have faced....It makes a unique and welcome contribution to the sparse literature on the subject.
Journal Of Asian Studies
Drawing on detailed archival work, Diamant depicts the arduous plight of demobilized veterans and their families, masterfully portraying their frustrating interactions with government officials, factory bosses, and local cadres. . . . In revealing the incongruity between the public image of the soldier-hero versus the reality of veterans’ mistreatment, Diamant forcibly deepens and challenges our understanding of Chinese nationalism, citizenship, and patriotism. Diamant’s comparison of the fate of Chinese veterans with those from other countries is especially useful in driving his point home. . . . The book’s striking thesis is that everyday Chinese nationalism and patriotism is weak in large part because China has ‘never experienced being a “nation-in-arms” in a legitimate war’ and the related lack of a ‘lived experience between classes’ produced ‘no significant leveling effect.’ This insight makes us see old events in a new light.
American Historical Review
Neil J. Diamant’s excellent study of Chinese veterans goes a long way toward correcting this neglect [of the military and war in Western histories of China]. . . . His descriptions of the disappointments of veterans who come home from military service to find that they are not particularly welcome are very moving. . . . Diamant’s book is about Chinese veterans, but it is informed by comparisons with the treatment of veterans in many other societies. The comparisons are so rich that they make the book a general study of the treatment of veterans, not just a book about China.
China Quarterly
A welcome addition to the limited literature on the subject. . . . Overall, the book sheds much-needed light on an understudied topic. Diamant does an excellent job of using archival material to improve our understanding of Chinese veterans in the Maoist era and adds to our understanding of politics and social issues in that era. . . . The author clearly has a passion for this topic. . . . He is deeply concerned with veterans and how they are treated, whether in China or elsewhere. Hopefully it will encourage further research and bring more scholarly attention to the comparative study of veterans' issues.
Pacific Affairs
Neil Diamant has made a pioneering contribution with his book, the most substantial study of China's treatment of its veterans and military families since the founding of the PRC. . . . He offers a direct and pragmatic study of how veterans and military families were treated at the local level and how they were received by the general population. . . . The single most important contribution of this study is the author's challenge to the prevailing view of the threat of China's rising nationalism and patriotism. . . . It poses an interesting question to readers: whether the CCP's self-interest in the retirement of its party cadres overrides the general national interest of the nation's demobilized soldiers.
Journal of Asian Studies
Drawing on detailed archival work, Diamant depicts the arduous plight of demobilized veterans and their families, masterfully portraying their frustrating interactions with government officials, factory bosses, and local cadres.…In revealing the incongruity between the public image of the soldier-hero versus the reality of veterans’ mistreatment, Diamant forcibly deepens and challenges our understanding of Chinese nationalism, citizenship, and patriotism. Diamant’s comparison of the fate of Chinese veterans with those from other countries is especially useful in driving his point home.…The book’s striking thesis is that everyday Chinese nationalism and patriotism is weak in large part because China has ‘never experienced being a “nation-in-arms” in a legitimate war’ and the related lack of a ‘lived experience between classes’ produced ‘no significant leveling effect.’ This insight makes us see old events in a new light.
Journal of Political and Military History
Taking on a highly important and yet much neglected topic, Niel J. Diamant's new book...sheds light on larger questions regarding the legitimacy of war, patriotism, and nationalism in China. This...ambitious work...paints a sophisticated picture of the difficulties Chinese veterans have faced....It makes a unique and welcome contribution to the sparse literature on the subject.
Arthur Waldron
Rarely is China described without some reference to its 'nationalism.' How do we explain, then, the overwhelmingly poor treatment of China's military veterans and their families, including those belonging to the triumphant People's Liberation Army? Diamant's answer, which draws on specific analyses of social and economic factors, carries us toward conclusions that will require a rethinking, for China, of the very idea of patriotism.
February 2010 American Historical Review
Neil J. Diamant’s excellent study of Chinese veterans goes a long way toward correcting this neglect [of the military and war in Western histories of China]. . . . His descriptions of the disappointments of veterans who come home from military service to find that they are not particularly welcome are very moving. . . . Diamant’s book is about Chinese veterans, but it is informed by comparisons with the treatment of veterans in many other societies. The comparisons are so rich that they make the book a general study of the treatment of veterans, not just a book about China.
March 2010 China Quarterly
A welcome addition to the limited literature on the subject. . . . Overall, the book sheds much-needed light on an understudied topic. Diamant does an excellent job of using archival material to improve our understanding of Chinese veterans in the Maoist era and adds to our understanding of politics and social issues in that era. . . . The author clearly has a passion for this topic. . . . He is deeply concerned with veterans and how they are treated, whether in China or elsewhere. Hopefully it will encourage further research and bring more scholarly attention to the comparative study of veterans' issues.
Miguel Centeno
A wonderful book that both expands the study of war from its normally European base to the significant case of China and also expands the study of contemporary China from the usual emphasis of party, village, and enterprise. Very well-written and exhaustively researched, it should be read by both students of war and of China. It is a far too rare marriage of rigorous theoretical questions and solid empirical answers.
June 2011 Pacific Affairs
Neil Diamant has made a pioneering contribution with his book, the most substantial study of China's treatment of its veterans and military families since the founding of the PRC….he offers a direct and pragmatic study of how veterans and military families were treated at the local level and how they were received by the general population….The single most important contribution of this study is the author's challenge to the prevailing view of the threat of China's rising nationalism and patriotism….It poses an interesting question to readers: whether the CCP's self-interest in the retirement of its party cadres overrides the general national interest of the nation's demobilized soldiers.
Twentieth-Century China
Painstakingly researched, engaging, thought-provoking and even moving....Diamant succeeds brilliantly in making the case that China’s veterans have been shabbily treated, both by the Party, their government, and their fellow-citizens. He also draws on secondary literature and on his experience as a veteran of the Israeli army to put China’s treatment of veterans into comparative perspective....Embattled Glory is an excellent and thought-provoking piece of scholarship which would make excellent reading for graduate and advanced undergraduate students as well as to scholars with a serious interest in the history and politics of the People’s Republic.
Armed Forces & Society
Although focused on China, this volume is as much a discussion about ‘veterans universal’ as it is about Chinese veterans. It is perhaps Diamant’s Israeli Defense Forces service during the Lebanon years that makes the difference, enhancing the quality of this title….Diamant has created a more than interesting look at veterans’ benefits in China and has used comparative bridges to other nations and cultures to illuminate the point that what societies say about their veterans and what services and benefits they actually deliver are two very different things. It is a good piece of work and well worth reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742557673
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/16/2010
  • Series: State & Society in East Asia Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil J. Diamant is associate professor of Asian law and society and chair of the Department of Political Science at Dickinson College.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Introduction 1

2 To the City or Bust: Veterans and the Quest for Urban Citizenship 55

3 The Complications of Veteran Identities 99

4 The Job Front 153

5 Stuck in the State's Cement and Falling through Its Cracks: Veterans in Policy and Bureaucracy 199

6 Vulnerable Heroes: Veterans' Health, Family, and Sexuality in Chinese Politics 251

7 Between Glory and Welfare: Military Families, the State, and Community 307

8 Salt in the Wounds: Veterans in the Reform Era, 1978-2007 355

9 Conclusion: Walter Reed, Iraq, and China 403

Appendix A A Brief Survey of Archival Materials in China 425

Appendix B Selected Character List 429

Appendix C Source Materials 433

Index 453

About the Author 463

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