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Sun Yat-Sen

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Overview


“By setting Sun Yat-sen in his proper historical context, this excellent biography not only resuscitates a major historical figure but constitutes one of the best histories we have of the late Qing and early Republican period.”—Frederic Wakeman, University of California, Berkeley
“This is a most welcome book, one that everyone interested in modern China has wanted for a long while. It is a readable, balanced, and judicious study . . . the most thorough book about Sun in a Western language, and so minutely researched that it goes far beyond any existing study.” —American Historical Review
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"By setting Sun Yat-sen in his proper historical context, this excellent biography not only resuscitates a major historical figure but constitutes one of the best histories we have of the late Qing and early Republican period."—Frederic Wakeman, University of California, Berkeley

"This is a most welcome book, one that everyone interested in modern China has wanted for a long while. It is a readable, balanced, and judicious study . . . the most thorough book about Sun in a Western language, and so minutely researched that it goes far beyond any existing study." —American Historical Review

"This study, by a leading historian of early-twentieth-century China, shows Sun's strengths as well as his weaknesses and helps explain his appeal. . . . Bergère provides enough context to make the biography accessible to general readers. Very highly recommended."—Choice

Library Journal
Not too many public figures are respected and upheld as national heroes in both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), but Sun Yat-sen is. He is a "pioneer of the revolution" to the Communists and the founding father to the dominant Nationalist Party of Taiwan. Berg re (Chinese civilization, National Inst. of Oriental Languages and Civilization, Paris) has written a new biography that seems very balanced and promising. Writings about Sun tend to divide sharply into two biased camps: highly politicized accounts by Chinese Communists of the heroic Sun opening the way for Mao vs. Western accounts of the myth-busting and belittling type. Berg re shows Sun in a much more balanced manner, and the scholarship is sound, as evidenced by the well-done notes and bibliography. Even so, for most libraries Harold Schiffrin's standard biography, Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary (LJ 7/80), is probably sufficient. This newer account is recommended only for libraries with a strong scholarly subject interest in China. (Index, maps, and illustrations not seen.)--Charles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., SUNY at Brockport
Booknews
Argues that the life and work of the nationalist Chinese leaders Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) has been distorted both by the cult that has grown around him in Taiwan and attempts by western scholars to demythify him. Finds him to have been a muddled politician, an opportunist with generous but confused ideas, and a theorist without great originality or intellectual rigor, but unique among his peers in recognizing the benefits of western civilization and introducing them to China. Originally published as volution <'a> l'autre 1895-1949/> by Librairie Arth<'e>me Fayard, Paris, 1994. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804740111
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 492
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Janet Lloyd has translated more than seventy books from the French by authors such as Jean-Pierre Vernant, Marcel Detienne, and Philippe Descola.
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Table of Contents

Note to Reader
Maps
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The Adventurer of the Southern Seas, 1866-1905 9
1 The Formative Years, 1866-1894 13
2 The Symbolic Creation of a Revolutionary Leader, 1894-1897 42
3 The Symbolic Creation of a Revolutionary Movement, 1897-1900 69
4 The Awakening of Chinese Nationalism and the Founding of the Revolutionary Alliance, 1905 97
Pt. 2 The Founding Father? 1905-1920 137
5 Sun and the Revolutionary Alliance 141
6 The Conspirator 173
7 The (Adoptive) Father of the Chinese Republic 198
8 Crossing the Desert, 1913-1920 246
Pt. 3 Sun's Last Years: National Revolution and Revolutionary Nationalism, 1920-1925 287
9 Sun Yat-sen, Soviet Advisers, and the Canton Revolutionary Base, 1920-1924 293
10 Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People 352
11 Sun Yat-sen's Death and Transformation 395
Biographical Sketches 423
Notes 437
Bibliography 459
Index 471
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Recipe

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the first president of the Republic of China, has left a supremely ambivalent political and intellectual legacy—so much so that he is claimed as a Founding Father by both the present rival governments in Taipei and Beijing. In Taiwan, he is the object of a veritable cult; in the People’s Republic of China, he is paid homage as “pioneer of the revolution,” making possible the Party’s claims of continuity with the national past. Western scholars, on the other hand, have tended to question the myth of Sun Yat-sen by stressing the man’s weaknesses, the thinker’s incoherences, and the revolutionary leader’s many failures.
This book argues that the life and work of Sun Yat-sen have been distorted both by the creation of the myth and by the attempts at demythification. Its aim is to provide a fresh overall evaluation of the man and the events that turned an adventurer into the founder of the Chinese Republic and the leader of a great nationalist movement. The Sun Yat-sen who emerges from this rigorously researched account is a muddled politician, an opportunist with generous but confused ideas, a theorist without great originality or intellectual rigor.
But the author demonstrates that the importance of Sun Yat-sen lies elsewhere. A Cantonese raised in Hawaii and Hong Kong, he was a product of maritime China, the China of the coastal provinces and overseas communities, open to foreign influences and acutely aware of the modern Western world (he was fund-raising in Denver when the eleventh attempt to bring down the Chinese empire finally succeeded). In facing the problems of change, of imitating the West, ofrejecting or adapting tradition, he instinctively grasped the aspirations of his time, understood their force, and crystallized them into practical programs.
Sun Yat-sen’s gifts enabled him to foresee the danger that technology might represent to democracy, stressed the role of infrastructures (transport, energy) in economic modernization, and looked forward to a new style of diplomatic and international economic relations based upon cooperation that bypassed or absorbed old hostilities. These “utopias” of his, at which his contemporaries heartily jeered, now seem to be so many prophecies.
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