NIXON AND MAO by Margaret MacMillan
Kirkus Star


The Week That Changed the World
Email this review


An account of the stunning 1972 visit by President Richard Nixon, long a Red-hater and -baiter, to the People’s Republic of China.

Canadian historian MacMillan (Paris 1919, 2002, etc.) begins as Nixon enters Chairman Mao’s study, on Feb. 21 that year, for his lone meeting with the declining dictator, who was approaching 80 and in failing health. He then moves back four days, to the departure of the president’s plane for China and proceeds with a chronological account of Nixon’s weeklong visit, interrupting occasionally to offer contextual asides. These cutaways include biographies of the four principals (Mao, Nixon, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Prime Minister Chou En-Lai); sketch the history of Communist China and Nationalist Taiwan; trace the course of the Vietnam War; and examine China’s relations with the West and with the Soviet Union. We learn why Nixon made the decision to go and how Kissinger escaped from his press entourage in Pakistan to make a preliminary visit to China. We get glimpses of the president’s famous yellow legal pads (on which he jotted down his “talking points” for the diplomatic sessions). We see the infighting between Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers, who found himself out of the loop; we learn more about Nixon’s cold treatment of his wife and Mao’s fondness for nubile farm girls.

First-rate popular history featuring a compelling cast, swift narration and rigorous analysis.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2007
ISBN: 1-4000-6127-X
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2006


NonfictionHISTORY'S PEOPLE by Margaret MacMillan
by Margaret MacMillan
NonfictionTHE WAR THAT ENDED PEACE by Margaret MacMillan
by Margaret MacMillan
NonfictionDANGEROUS GAMES by Margaret MacMillan
by Margaret MacMillan


NonfictionNIXON'S DARKEST SECRETS by Don Fulsom
by Don Fulsom
NonfictionPRISONERS OF HOPE by Randall B. Woods
by Randall B. Woods
NonfictionHISTORY'S PEOPLE by Margaret MacMillan
by Margaret MacMillan