An occasionally too-dense but impressively wide-ranging history demonstrating that the U.S.–China relationship began decades...

THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY AND THE MIDDLE KINGDOM

AMERICA AND CHINA, 1776 TO THE PRESENT

An in-depth look at the historically deep and mutually influential relationship between the United States and China.

Since the American Revolution, the Middle Kingdom (China) and Meiguo, the “Beautiful Country” (America), have enjoyed both a rich exchange of culture and trade and bitter enmity, especially during the early communist era. In this thoroughgoing study that moves from the revolutionary era to the present, former Washington Post foreign correspondent Pomfret (Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China, 2006), who was recently a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Beijing, delves into the historical relations between the two and offers a fresh appraisal of each nation’s contributions to the other. The author asserts that the U.S. has had a significant role in China’s rise, reaching back to when the U.S. provided China an early market for its coveted “china,” tea, and drapery. On the other hand, in China, many Americans, such as John Perkins Cushing and Franklin Roosevelt’s grandfather Warren Delano, made their fortunes in pelts, silks, tea, opium, and other commodities. By the mid-19th century, missionaries had a huge influence on the Chinese, as China represented the big prize in missionary work during the series of Great Awakenings that swept America. Pomfret credits the early missionaries, especially women like Adele Fielde, with bringing Western medicine, education, and law to China and helping to outlaw infanticide and foot binding. The building of the First Transcontinental Railroad required enormous labor, and the Chinese stepped in where Americans would not; however, after the Civil War and the demobilization of soldiers moving West in search of work, the tables turned on the Chinese in the form of pogroms and anti-Chinese immigration legislation. In this highly detailed narrative, Pomfret moves chronologically through these developments, ably fleshing out the characters involved. Regarding recent events, he is not uncritical of China’s cyberspying and aggression in the South China Sea.

An occasionally too-dense but impressively wide-ranging history demonstrating that the U.S.–China relationship began decades before Richard Nixon arrived on the scene.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9250-9

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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