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A Path Twice Traveled

A Path Twice Traveled

My Journey as a Historian of China

Paul A. Cohen

ISBN 9780674237292

Publication date: 01/01/2019

In this memoir, Paul A. Cohen, one of the West’s preeminent historians of China, traces the development of his work from its inception in the early 1960s to the present, offering fresh perspectives that consistently challenge us to think more deeply about China and the historical craft in general. A memoir, of course, is itself a form of history. But for a historian, writing a memoir on one’s career is quite different from the creation of that career in the first place. This is what Cohen alludes to in the title A Path Twice Traveled. The title highlights the important disparity between the past as originally experienced and the past as later reconstructed, by which point both the historian and the world have undergone extensive change. This distinction, which conveys nicely the double meaning of the word history, is very much on Cohen’s mind throughout the book. He returns to it explicitly in the memoir’s final chapter, appropriately titled “Then and Now: The Two Histories.”


  • [Cohen’s] significant contributions to Chinese studies earn himself a unique fame, as he has already left an indelible mark upon the field. For more than half a century, a generation of scholars have been inspired by his creative, insightful, and provocative thoughts…Anyone who wants to study Chinese history, Chinese civilization, and related disciplines will find this memoir motivating and inspirational.

    —Patrick Fuliang Shan, Chinese Historical Review


  • Paul A. Cohen is Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and History Emeritus at Wellesley College.

Book Details

  • 316 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Asia Center