Cover: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China, from Harvard University PressCover: The Generalissimo in PAPERBACK

The Generalissimo

Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China

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Product Details

PAPERBACK

$22.00 • £16.95 • €20.00

ISBN 9780674060494

Publication: April 2011

Trade

752 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

41 halftones, 4 maps

Belknap Press

World

One of the most momentous stories of the last century is China’s rise from a self-satisfied, anti-modern, decaying society into a global power that promises to one day rival the United States. Chiang Kai-shek, an autocratic, larger-than-life figure, dominates this story. A modernist as well as a neo-Confucianist, Chiang was a man of war who led the most ancient and populous country in the world through a quarter century of bloody revolutions, civil conflict, and wars of resistance against Japanese aggression.

In 1949, when he was defeated by Mao Zedong—his archrival for leadership of China—he fled to Taiwan, where he ruled for another twenty-five years. Playing a key role in the cold war with China, Chiang suppressed opposition with his “white terror,” controlled inflation and corruption, carried out land reform, and raised personal income, health, and educational levels on the island. Consciously or not, he set the stage for Taiwan’s evolution of a Chinese model of democratic modernization.

Drawing heavily on Chinese sources including Chiang’s diaries, The Generalissimo provides the most lively, sweeping, and objective biography yet of a man whose length of uninterrupted, active engagement at the highest levels in the march of history is excelled by few, if any, in modern history. Jay Taylor shows a man who was exceedingly ruthless and temperamental but who was also courageous and conscientious in matters of state. Revealing fascinating aspects of Chiang’s life, Taylor provides penetrating insight into the dynamics of the past that lie behind the struggle for modernity of mainland China and its relationship with Taiwan.

Awards

  • Honorable Mention, 2010 Bernard Schwartz Book Award, Asia Society
  • 2010 Lionel Gelber Prize, Lionel Gelber Foundation, Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and Foreign Policy
  • A Financial Times Best History Book of 2009
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