During 1947-49, the author of this work had what he calls, by way of tremendous understatement, ""an unusual opportunity"". As a Fellow of the Institute of World Affairs and foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, he was able to visit virtually all of Nationalist-held China, and afterwards spent half a year under Communist rule. Two previous books have come out of his experiences: Communist China and Asia and Communist China in Perspective. This third volume is not the less valuable for being based almost entirely upon personal observation and on-the-spot interviews; in fact, most readers should agree that it gains far more than it loses by such a restriction. Travelling through such remote areas as Chinese Turkestan and Inner Mongolia, by donkey cart, sedan chair, horseback, or on foot, Professor Barnett obtained an invaluable picture of the political social, economic, and military disintegration of the Nationalist regime which preceded and made possible the Communists' swift and easy rise to power. His eyewitness account of the roles played by the peasants, students, businessmen, factory workers, and political cliques during these crucial years in this crucial part of our modern world is surely one of the most detailed and vivid analyses of the subject yet published. At least until the dust settles completely and historical perspective and detachment becomes possible, it must retain and important position in any attempt at an understanding of what really happened, and why.