A remarkable history of the two-centuries-old relationship between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the present day
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap Chinese tea, to the US warships facing off against China's growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America's ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns―rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment―were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.
Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important―and often the most perplexing―relationship between any two countries in the world.
Praise for The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom:
"Donald Trump (or his next secretary of state) would be well advised to read this timely and comprehensively informative book...very good and important." ―Simon Winchester for The New York Times Book Review
"...exhaustively researched and vigorously told...If the new administration in Washington wishes to get a sense of the broad sweep of American history with China, I can think of few better places to start than this book." ―Howard W. French for The Wall Street Journal
"[An] absorbing new book...[Pomfret] weaves a lively tale, peppered with a cast of adventurers, spies, preachers, communists and McCarthyites who have boosted and sabotaged the relationship in turn over the years." ―The Economist
“One thing that John Pomfret does very effectively in The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is help us appreciate just how long Chinese views of America have been shaped, as they are now, by a mix of feelings including admiration, attraction, disappointment and disdain. Pomfret, a veteran journalist and author of the well-received Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China (2006), reminds us that we are dealing with a love-hate relationship that dates back to the years following the American Revolution… The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, though containing clear arguments, including the idea that there is a related love-hate dynamic in American views of China, is ultimately a biographically driven work. Its strength lies in the cumulative effect of seeing recurring patterns revealed via skilfully drawn character sketches.” ―Financial Times
About the Author
John Pomfret served as a correspondent for the Washington Post for two decades, covering wars, revolutions, and China. He is the author of the acclaimed book Chinese Lessons, and has won awards for his reporting on Asia, including the Osborne Elliot Prize. He holds a BA and MA from Stanford University and was one of the first American students to go to China after relations were normalized. Pomfret was expelled from China after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Most recently, he was a Fulbright senior scholar in Beijing.