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A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World

A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

China today is poised to play a key role on the world stage, but in the early twentieth century the situation was very different. In this powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern world.

Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China's twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage over the Paris peace conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to "the May Fourth Movement." Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, embracing youth, this "New Culture movement" made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed: the 1940s, with the war against Japan and the civil war between the Nationalist Party and the Communists; the 1960s, with the bizarre, seemingly anarchic world of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution; and the 1980s, with the rise of a semi-market economy against the backdrop of continued single-party rule and growing inequality. Throughout each of these dramatically different eras, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to the recent romance with space-age technology.

China, Mitter concludes, still seems to be in search of a new narrative about what the country is, and what it should become. And May 4 remains a touchstone in that search.

Review:

"This is a fascinating look at a pivotal time in the formation of the culture of modern China. The 'Bitter Revolution' of the title is not the Communist Revolution of 1949 or the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, but the revolution of ideas that climaxed in the mass anti-imperialist protests of May 4, 1919. Known as the May Fourth Movement, these student-led protests engendered tumultuous cultural eddies that disturbed all aspects of Chinese life. Mitter's focus on this underappreciated fulcrum of modern Chinese history is refreshing. Chinese Communist historiography has mythologized the May Fourth Movement as the youthful harbinger of the 1949 revolution. Mitter goes beyond such teleological myths to recapture the often desperate and heady atmosphere of the 'New Culture Movement,' which paralleled the political tumult. She reveals antecedents to later events, including developments as disparate as the Cultural Revolution and the recent decades of economic and cultural liberalization. Especially interesting were new attitudes toward gender relations, sexuality, marriage and family. In many ways, the individualism and experimentation of that era have more in common with contemporary China than the intervening decades of wartime and Communist collectivism and conformity — a compelling reason why this history of early 20th-century China is so relevant today. What is most intriguing about Mitter's account is not what was lost in the dark decades that followed, but how much endured. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

China today is poised to play a key role on the world stage, but in the early twentieth century the situation was very different. In this powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern world.

Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China's twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage over the Paris peace conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to "the May Fourth Movement." Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, embracing youth, this "New Culture movement" made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed: the 1940s, with the war against Japan and the civil war between the Nationalist Party and the Communists; the 1960s, with the bizarre, seemingly anarchic world of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution; and the 1980s, with the rise of a semi-market economy against the backdrop of continued single-party rule and growing inequality. Throughout each of these dramatically different eras, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to the recent romance with space-age technology.

China, Mitter concludes, still seems to be in search of a new narrative about what the country is, and what it should become. And May 4 remains a touchstone in that search.

Synopsis:

In this powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern. Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China's twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage

over the Paris peace conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to "the May Fourth Movement." Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as

hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, and embracing youth, this "New Culture movement" made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed. Throughout each of the dramatically different eras that

followed, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to China's recent romance with space-age technology.

About the Author

Rana Mitter is Lecturer in the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St. Cross College. In addition to many books and journal articles, Mitter has contributed to documentaries on the History Channel and is involved in a forthcoming documentary on Kublai Khan.

Table of Contents

Prologue

Tian'anmen Square, 1989

1. Flashpoint - Beijing, May Fourth, 1919

2. Saving the Nation: the era of the May Fourth Movement

3. Erasing the past: iconoclasm and the destruction of tradition

4. Ugly Chinamen and Dead Rivers

5. Making a stand: the lure and limits of democracy

Epilogue

The Legacy of May Fourth

Product Details

ISBN:
9780192803412
Subtitle:
China's Struggle with the Modern World
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Author:
Mitter, Rana
Author:
null, Rana
Location:
New York
Subject:
China
Subject:
History, World | Asian
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series:
The Making of the Modern World
Series Volume:
24
Publication Date:
20040701
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
31 figures
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
6.3 x 9.3 x 1.6 in 1.631 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Asia » China » Peoples Republic 1949 to Present
History and Social Science » World History » China

A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 384 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780192803412 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This is a fascinating look at a pivotal time in the formation of the culture of modern China. The 'Bitter Revolution' of the title is not the Communist Revolution of 1949 or the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, but the revolution of ideas that climaxed in the mass anti-imperialist protests of May 4, 1919. Known as the May Fourth Movement, these student-led protests engendered tumultuous cultural eddies that disturbed all aspects of Chinese life. Mitter's focus on this underappreciated fulcrum of modern Chinese history is refreshing. Chinese Communist historiography has mythologized the May Fourth Movement as the youthful harbinger of the 1949 revolution. Mitter goes beyond such teleological myths to recapture the often desperate and heady atmosphere of the 'New Culture Movement,' which paralleled the political tumult. She reveals antecedents to later events, including developments as disparate as the Cultural Revolution and the recent decades of economic and cultural liberalization. Especially interesting were new attitudes toward gender relations, sexuality, marriage and family. In many ways, the individualism and experimentation of that era have more in common with contemporary China than the intervening decades of wartime and Communist collectivism and conformity — a compelling reason why this history of early 20th-century China is so relevant today. What is most intriguing about Mitter's account is not what was lost in the dark decades that followed, but how much endured. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , China today is poised to play a key role on the world stage, but in the early twentieth century the situation was very different. In this powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern world.

Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China's twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage over the Paris peace conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to "the May Fourth Movement." Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, embracing youth, this "New Culture movement" made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed: the 1940s, with the war against Japan and the civil war between the Nationalist Party and the Communists; the 1960s, with the bizarre, seemingly anarchic world of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution; and the 1980s, with the rise of a semi-market economy against the backdrop of continued single-party rule and growing inequality. Throughout each of these dramatically different eras, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to the recent romance with space-age technology.

China, Mitter concludes, still seems to be in search of a new narrative about what the country is, and what it should become. And May 4 remains a touchstone in that search.

"Synopsis" by , In this powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern. Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China's twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage

over the Paris peace conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to "the May Fourth Movement." Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as

hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, and embracing youth, this "New Culture movement" made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed. Throughout each of the dramatically different eras that

followed, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to China's recent romance with space-age technology.

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