A remarkable history of the two-centuries-old relationship between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the present day
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap Chinese tea, to the US warships facing off against China's growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America's ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.
Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world.
Perkins does not try to dramatize one or another event, plays no vocal games with humor or irony, and makes no effort to distinguish the voices of the innumerable Chinese and American players in this history of U.S.-China relations from the 18th century to the Obama administration. The book is strongest when focusing on America's contributions to China, but Pomfret gives China some credit for cooperative periods and blames both countries for the recurring love-hate pattern in their relationship over the centuries. Reader Perkins offers a clear, well-paced, and perfectly serviceable rendering of Pomfret's comprehensive book. A Holt hardcover. \n