TO CHANGE CHINA: Western Advisers in China 1620-1960 by Jonathan Spence

TO CHANGE CHINA: Western Advisers in China 1620-1960

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A picture gallery of men who tried ""to change China"" by converting her to Western ways, this book chronicles the failed attempts of sixteen ""barbarians"" to impose on China their own vision of her destiny. In separate chapters on figures as diverse as 17th century Jesuit astronomers and 20th century Cold Warriors, Spence pinpoints essential similarities uniting ""China hands"" both celebrated and obscure: a common desire to escape the frustrations of life at home; a common sense of superiority to their hosts; a common misjudgment of China's real needs; and a common fate--to be used by their would-be pupils and cast aside. The book is low-key and neutral in tone. But some bias is evident. The historical characters tend to come off better or worse as they approach the sensitive and realistic views Spence approves: thus high marks for Borodin, the reflective revolutionary, and Hume, the thoughtful physician; low ratings for the traditionally glorified ""Chinese"" Gordon and General Claire Chennault. Though too dry for some, this book will give the interested reader a respect for the stubborn integrity of a China confronted by so many eager and arrogant manipulators. It also will suggest how future Western advisers may expect to fare in their contacts with other prideful Third World nations.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1969
Publisher: Little, Brown