I am feeling very remiss for not having posted since Konrad gave me a log-in. I am a PhD student at Cambridge looking at China and Southeast Asia. My dissertation is (currently – it has undergone some metamorphoses) on social change as reflected in women’s writing 1880-1920.
I came across something a couple of days ago that I thought merited a post. This article from the New Criterion is of interest, discussing broadly the history of Western writers who were sympathetic to Mao, and how they influenced opinion in the West, and how the new Chang/Halliday book will change views on China. (a log-in may be required at the New Criterion site, don’t worry it is free)
I don’t know whether Winschuttle is overstating it, but then he is a controversialist. (and anyone in history should read his The Killing of History for a strong analysis on the culture wars within the discipline).
I have not read the Chang book, but Windschuttle seemed to have no idea what he was talking about. For another review, with lots of quotes from China scholars, see this. (via HNN)
Most of what’s “new” in Chang/Halliday isn’t really new (and the rest of it is highly dubious). The Age review is much clearer than Windschuttle, who’s got no background in Chinese history or historiography, and appears to take Chang at face value.
At some point we’re going to have to have a serious discussion of this book (my review copy is on the way, reportedly), but until then, we’ll just have to settle for keeping lists of reviews: Arthur Waldron in Commentary: PDF.
It’s structurally a lot like Kristof’s NYT review: pretty much a straight summary, with quibbles (none of which address substance and none of which are even hinted at in the uncritical summary) at the end.
(and here’s a page with links to a lot of published reviews)
Andrew Nathan, the China politics prof at Columbia and editor of several works based on anonymous Chinese government sources reviewed and cuts down to size the Chang/Halliday book: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n22/nath01_.html
Haydon Cherry, on H-Asia, posted a link to the mother lode: http://www.wellesley.edu/Polisci/wj/ChinaLinks-New/whatsnew.html.
I got my review copy in the mail yesterday. I’ve noted two logical fallacies in the first chapter….
Apparently the LRB is going to host a Mao-fest: an interview with Chang/Halliday and a ten point rebuttal of their critics, along with a response by Nathan, among others. Jonathan Spence apparently panned it in NYRB, too.