China in Disintegration

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 30, 2008 - History - 352 pages
After the 1911 fall of the Manchus came the most hideous breakdown in Chinese history. Sheridan, a Northwestern University scholar, concentrates on the Kuomintang movement of Chiang Kai-shek, insisting that we judge a political force by whether it solves the problems posed to it, not, as Chiang's partisans prefer, by means of what-if's. Sheridan's focus on the KMT brings more to light than do many surveys of Mao's revolutionaries. The KMT failed either to create an effective dictatorship or to mobilize fascist passions which could ensure willingness to "sacrifice." Thus the difficulty in squeezing enough wealth out of the peasantry to meet a foreign debt which totaled half the national revenue. The KMT did ensure that forced opium production took up at least a fifth of Chinese cropland by the 1929-1933 period, and they consolidated a soldier recruitment system that approximated Nazi roundups. However, the book underlines Chiang's failure to give the masses a ""Strength through Joy"" spirit; and, as wartime inflation of 300% gave way to postwar collapse, the anti-Communist pitch became emptier and emptier. The Kuomintang turned into a mere holding operation and faded into chaos. Sheridan gives a strong sense of the rapine of the warlords who were Chiang's off-and-on allies, and of the feeble heritage of Sun Yat-sen's patriotic platitudes. He leaves out explicit investigation of the international context while underlining, more than most writers, Chiang's commitment to repay external debt at the expense of the Chinese people. A sound and striking approach to these decades of desperation in the lives of a quarter of the human population—if not bypassed in the glut of "China books," it may encourage students and academics to go further. —Kirkus Reviews

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The Birth of the Republic
Chapter HI The Warlords
Urban Intellectual Revolution
Coalition and Conflict
Warlordism in the Nanking Decade
Integration in the Nanking Decade
The Communist Victory
National Reintegration
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Page 286 - In all practical work of our party, correct leadership can only be developed on the principle of 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means summing up (ie, co-ordinating and systematizing after careful study) the views of the masses (ie, views scattered and unsystematic), then taking the resulting ideas back to the masses, explaining and popularizing them until the masses embrace the ideas as their own, stand up for them and translate them into action by way of testing their correctness.
Page 279 - The salvation of the situation, as I see it, would be the assumption of leadership by the liberals in the Government and in the minority parties, a splendid group of men, but who as yet lack the political power to exercise a controlling influence. Successful action on their part under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek would, I believe, lead to unity through good government.
Page 8 - Nationalism is a state of mind, in which the supreme loyalty of the individual is felt to be due the nation-state.
Page 125 - Liberation means the liberation of this or that system, of this or that idea, or this or that individual; it is reform by inches and drops. The first step in the recreation of civilization is the study of this or that problem.
Page 38 - This pattern of things continued into the last years of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth...
Page 323 - Ramon H. Myers, The Chinese Peasant Economy: Agricultural Development in Hopei and Shantung, 1890-1949 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp.
Page 218 - Stated simply, it is to thoroughly militarize the lives of the citizens of the entire nation so that they can cultivate courage and swiftness, the endurance of suffering and a tolerance of hard work, and especially the habit and ability of unified action, so that they will at any time sacrifice themselves for the nation. s" He pointed out that the best examples were Germany, Italy and Japan.
Page 11 - fundamental democratization" imply two distinct stages of the process: (1) the stage of uprooting or breaking away from old settings, habits and commitments; and (2) the induction of the mobilized persons into some relatively stable new patterns of group membership, organization and commitment.

About the author (2008)

James E. Sheridan is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Northwestern University and the author of a number of books on China.

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