The Dragon and the Foreign Devils
China and the World, 1100 B.C. to the Present
By Harry G. Gelber
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802715913, 512pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
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China is the most exciting rising power in the world today. The fact that China may be the next superpower attracts endless interest from all quarters--yet China is still utterly inscrutable to most outsiders. In The Dragon and the Foreign Devils Harry Gelber illuminates China's present by looking at the broad sweep of foreign relations in its past. From the incursions by the steppe horsemen and the Mongol conquests to the first arrival of European travelers, foreign fascination with China has followed certain patterns: curiosity, admiration, and greed for trade or territory. But, as China gradually rises from the turbulence in the wake of Mao Zedong to the economic growth and political stability of the twenty-first century, the dynamic between East and West has slowly shifted. Essential reading for anyone interested in China and its evolving relations with foreigners, The Dragon and the Foreign Devils breaks down the walls between East and West and shines a light on the recurring cycles of Chinese history.
Harry Gelber is an internationally renowned scholar of history and political science. He is the author of thirteen books and numerous papers and articles. He has taught at Harvard, Boston University, and the London School of Economics, among many others.
“Gelber’s skill as a journalist combines with his scholarly depth and rigor to yield a book which is accurate, relevant, sharply focused, logically argued, and very readable.”—Robert O’Neill, Oxford University “As I read through Dr. Harry Gelber’s latest book on China, I became increasingly convinced that it would be the ideal textbook for any college course on the subject. The prose is elegant and clear, the information is comprehensive, and the book is eminently readable.”—Dean Schulz, Boston University “A fluent and thorough, though understandably brief, survey of Chinese history. ...Gelber makes solid work of describing China’s past and suggesting what those consequences might be. A readable, sturdy overview, worthy of shelving alongside Joseph Levenson and Franz Schurmann’s China: An Interpretive History.”—Kirkus Reviews “This is a grand historical review of China and its relations with the outside world, starting with the earliest record of Chinese civilization and then covering the rise and fall of the dynasties, the communist revolution, and the current turn to reform and pragmatism. By treating China's relations with the outside world as his constant guiding theme, Gelber is able to give a distinctive twist to the standard history. Anyone who has read that history will find a new dimension in Gelber's telling of the story. He enlivens his account by describing in some detail the competition among the "foreign devils" to get the better of China, driven by strong commercial interests. Gelber's China, meanwhile, is not an isolated and introspective place but rather a society that is responsive to international currents.”—Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007 issue