Even those who have a passing familiarity with the course of Chinese-American relations might find instructive Marine Commandant David Shoup's comment to the author on the 1927 US intervention in the Boxer Rebellion--""I wondered at the time if our government would put all these marines. . . where they might sacrifice their lives in defame of Standard Oil."" Archer's review of our ambivalent and often, as most would now agree, wrong-headed policies has enough such highlights to make it more than just a rehash of Edgar Snow, Barbara Tuchman, and John King Fairbanks. The scope is sweeping--from the opium wars to after the death of Chiang in 1975--and includes the history of Chinese in the US as well as our actions abroad. But Archer's balanced conclusion, which hails detente while cautioning us to have limited expectations, and his wide-ranging nine-page bibliography are solid enough to carry the chronological weight.