A legend, a mystery, a menace--China, whose monstrous mainland existence creates an embarrassing void for official American cartographers, has regained her ancient position of power with a threatening modern twist. Much too little is known about the crucial character of her historico-political gyrations. This sober, documented history by the last U.S. Consul-General (ever) in Peiping, brings the facts and the inevitable Chinese character attached to them winding through the years from the fall of the Confucian order in the first years of this century through the Revolutions--1912, Sun Yat-sen and the abortive Chinese Republic; 1972, Chiang Kaishek's Nationalist government in Nanking; the 21-year interregnum of Kuomintang (Nationalist)- Communist struggle; 1949, the Chinese People's Republic, Communism and Mao Tse-tung--to today and the building of a Communist state which, as this author rightly shows, is more Chinese than Communist. Internal problems of economy and civil strife, foreign policy and America's role, and the typical trait of the Chinese masses that lends itself to tyranny are all interwoven into the political narrative. The Sino-Soviet split, the almost inconsequential fate of Formosa, Peking's cry for ""protracted war"" and domestic economic radicalism sound the most recent notes in Mao's melody. China today, a unity where there was none before, moves single-mindedly toward her traditional position as the sovereign ""Middle Kingdom"". Lucid and scholarly, his conclusions seem timely, definitive, and important.