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by Henry Kissinger

Unabridged, 9 CDs, 11 hours Read by TBA Drawing on forty years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders, Henry Kissinger reflects on how China's past relations with the outside world illuminate its twenty-first-century trajectory.
Download On China epub
ISBN: 0142428361
ISBN13: 978-0142428368
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Politics & Government
Author: Henry Kissinger
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (May 17, 2011)
ePUB size: 1151 kb
FB2 size: 1542 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 517
Other Formats: mbr mobi txt lit

In On China, Kissinger describes what he calls the "triangulation" between China, the US, and the USSR. Kissinger tells us that Chinese leaders, starting with Mao Zedong, skillfully played the Americans and Russians off against each other, bolstering China's relatively weak position and enabling it to behave as a third Superpower. This account is the most significant element in On China, though Kissinger gives us more. He briefly sketches China's history, including the odd fact that the vast country apparently has no origin myth -- even in its oldest stories China was simply always there -- and then brings the picture into increasing detail as he moves forward, achieving the sharpest focus in those years when Kissinger himself was closely involved in the Chinese--American interaction. Along the way we get glimpses of the personalities of 20th and 21st century Chinese leaders. Mao, for example, comes across as brilliant and fiercely determined, but lacking any sense of empathy. Zhou Enlai was subtle, polite and solicitous, but distant. Deng Xioping was practical, down-to-earth, and direct, and so on -- the former Secretary of State is at pains to be objective and to give everyone his due. Kissinger may be an old cold warrior, and some will never forgive him for his involvement with the Vietnam war and the bombing of Cambodia, but his analyses are always insightful, and it is fascinating to follow his mind at work. Highly recommended.
The book is of immense value to anyone with even a passing interest in US, China relations. While some may criticize HAK for his treatment of Moa and other significant dignitaries, i.e. he does not go into detail regarding personalities and character traits, he does provide adequate information concerning their thoughts and statements related to his, HAK's, experience with them. Typical of Kissinger writings related to historical events, he frames all actors in such a way as to explain their behavior, rather than to microscopically examine their motives or personalities....with the practical effect, the reader is allowed to concentrate on events, instead of becoming embroiled in particulars related to individuals..........All people have particulars, about which, volumes of speculative writings could be generated; HAK penetrates and emphasizes the traits understandable to virtually every person. I believe the great lesson presented by this volume is that deep understanding of previous events, not the random occurrence various personalities, is the touchstone of successful international relations. HAK is a master of not losing perspective on the forest by becoming too concerned with the individual trees.
I’m giving this book 5 stars because of its uniqueness and the value of its personal interpretation of events, the many direct quotes and examples given, and the the author’s obvious importance in the last 40 years of world history. That is not to say this is a perfect book. It’s is peculiar to itself and worth the read.

As someone who has studied and lived in China, though after the periods referred to in the book for the most part, I find many of his explanations and analysis to be worthy of serious consideration and based on historical fact with consideration of the ancient and modern Chinese consciousness. Do I agree with everything? No. This book would have been too tame and timid if every statement expressed in its pages were wholly supported by all readers.

I anticipate, from a quick scan of other reviews, that some will find the author rather laudatory towards several of the Chinese leaders mentioned. He does show respect, something the American republic is often hesitant to do towards any foreign leader or even our own; however, you will find he writes with similar respect towards American leaders of similar time periods and it is impossible to write clear facts in some cases, without it being assumed that credit is being given.

The author has a very well realized concept of the stumbling blocks, cultural tripping points and shear weight of history that face any combination of leaders from China and the U.S. as they try to step forward into the future. In many cases, it seems that he is refraining from judgement or attempting to put forth facts that the general public with its media pipeline of information, may not have considered. One must read this book for its value as a statement of viewpoint and personally experienced event, understood from one man’s perspective. It is useful, in and of itself; all accounts of history have a perspective unique to the telling and the study of what it perceived or advertised is nearly as important as the event themselves. Consider Ramesses II and his carving commemorating the defeat of the Hittites at Kadesh.