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Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World

by

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Combining the insight of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World and the intrigue of Ben Affleck’s Argo, Ping Pong Diplomacy traces the story of how an aristocratic British spy used the game of table tennis to propel a Communist strategy that changed the shape of the world.

The spring of 1971 brought the greatest realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved towards a détente — achieved not by politicians but by ping pong players. The western press digested the moment as an absurd and happy catalyst for reconciliation and branded it ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy.’ But for the Chinese, ping pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, the son of a wealthy English baron who also happened to be a spy for the Soviet Union.

Ping Pong Diplomacy tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were condemned, tortured, and murdered during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies, ping pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport incited a realignment of world super powers.

Review:

"Griffin, a journalist, novelist, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, merges sport and diplomacy in a surprising story of how, for a moment in 1971, ping pong became a key player in world affairs. He analyzes the role the game played in Chinese politics while also profiling Ivor Montagu, a Jewish-British aristocrat who, driven by his love of ping pong and more private career as a communist spy, championed the growth of the International Table Tennis Federation. The invitation the American ping pong team received from China in 1971 was an unprecedented surprise, as was the impact of the match on world affairs. Griffin makes a strong case that the success of the American team's China trip played perfectly into President Richard Nixon's own historic China trip and the detente that altered world politics. Throughout, Griffin balances geopolitical context with sympathetic depictions of the world-class ping pong players who competed. Among them was Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese world champion who was disgraced during the dangerous days of the Cultural Revolution, and American star Glenn Cowan, who died homeless in 2004. Griffin has found an intriguing story with which to illuminate several important political events of the later 20th century and told it well." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente — achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it "Ping-Pong Diplomacy." But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedongand#8217;s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union.

Ping Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial intersection of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.

About the Author

Nicholas Griffin is a journalist and author of four novels one work of non-fiction. His writing has appeared in The Times (UK), The Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and other publications on topics as disparate as sports and politics, piracy, filmmaking in the Middle East, and the natural sciences. Griffin has written for film and is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781451642773
Subtitle:
The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World
Author:
Griffin, Nicholas
Publisher:
Scribner
Subject:
Sports and Fitness-Sports General
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20140107
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Miscellaneous Sports
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Table Tennis
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Tennis and Raquetball » General

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World Used Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Scribner - English 9781451642773 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Griffin, a journalist, novelist, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, merges sport and diplomacy in a surprising story of how, for a moment in 1971, ping pong became a key player in world affairs. He analyzes the role the game played in Chinese politics while also profiling Ivor Montagu, a Jewish-British aristocrat who, driven by his love of ping pong and more private career as a communist spy, championed the growth of the International Table Tennis Federation. The invitation the American ping pong team received from China in 1971 was an unprecedented surprise, as was the impact of the match on world affairs. Griffin makes a strong case that the success of the American team's China trip played perfectly into President Richard Nixon's own historic China trip and the detente that altered world politics. Throughout, Griffin balances geopolitical context with sympathetic depictions of the world-class ping pong players who competed. Among them was Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese world champion who was disgraced during the dangerous days of the Cultural Revolution, and American star Glenn Cowan, who died homeless in 2004. Griffin has found an intriguing story with which to illuminate several important political events of the later 20th century and told it well." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente — achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it "Ping-Pong Diplomacy." But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedongand#8217;s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union.

Ping Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial intersection of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.

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