Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

Foreign correspondents are crucial conduits for insights into contemporary East Asia. As I’ve learned from my conversations with various bureau chiefs, stringers, and greybeards in the region, there are few people willing to share insights as journalists, as it is their job to be, and to stay, plugged in. For the contemporary historian, reading the accounts of journalists in the region in the 1940s an … Continue reading Writing the Early Postwar: White and Jacoby’s _Thunder Out of China_

Opium and National Humiliation: Another Commemoration

On June 8, 1944, the German Embassy in Tokyo sent a report back to the Ausw√§rtiges Amt (Foreign Ministry). Unlike so many other files dealing with foreign affairs, at this particular dispatch showed no signs of having encountered Ribbentrop’s blue pencil — the German foreign minister was notoriously narcissistic and had to see the full text of every article mentioning his name. The subject of … Continue reading Opium and National Humiliation: Another Commemoration

Cold War Analysis of Chinese History

Includes interviews with Pearl S. Buck and Theodore White, plenty of Orientalism (the music score is a treatise itself in stereotypes and aural affects) and such gems as describing Shanxi warlord Yan Hsi-shan as “the treacherous opium addict” and the precursor of the notion of China as dominated by “the poet and the executioner.” Continue reading Cold War Analysis of Chinese History

Celebrating the National Day Holiday Week in the PRC

Just when you think that China has completely exhausted its capacity to surprise you, the hard-line foreign policy tabloid Huanqiu Shibao sends a reporter to cover an S & M-themed show at an International Exhibition in a second-tier city like Zhengzhou, Henan, where apparently, if the face of the little old man at the foot of the stage is any indication, the show brought much … Continue reading Celebrating the National Day Holiday Week in the PRC

Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC

In walking around Chinese book markets, perusing Chinese newspapers, talking to Chinese scholars and intellectuals, and just plain thinking here in the PRC, the remarkable fact emerges of the enormous gap between what is printed and discussed here and how we talk about it back in the West. In other words, there are some thorny themes being worked out here in the PRC that seem … Continue reading Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC