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Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost Paperback – 7 Mar 2005
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'A magisterial account of the brave and unfulfilled life of the man who lost China to Communism' -- HISTORY TODAY
'Fenby has a gripping story, and tells it with great verve and insight' -- SPECTATOR
'Highly readable ... It is an epic tale and Fenby tells it with panache' -- SUNDAY TIMES
Astute, unusually well-written . . . the author rises fully to placing the Generalissimos political career into long-term perspective -- WALL STREET JOURNAL
Excellent biography . . . highly readable . . . Mr Fenby gives full range to an amazing cast of grotesques -- The ECONOMIST
From the Inside Flap
For more than two decades, Chiang Kai-shek, the Generalissimo of China, stood at the centre of a uniquely turbulent period in the modern history of the worlds most heavily populated nation. The son of a village salt-seller, he rose to personify his vast country in the period between the fall of the Manchu Empire in 1911 and the Communist victory in 1949. Grabbing the mantle of the Nationalist revolution and gaining control of the Kuomintang party, he led its army on the greatest campaign on earth between the two world wars in an attempt to defeat great warlords and propel the country towards unification, only to be confronted by the twin challenges of the Communists and the invading Japanese -- challenges which ultimately proved too great for even this most ambitious of men.
This is the first full biography of Chiang in English for twenty-five years. Focusing on his extraordinary life up to and including the defeat by Mao Zedong in 1949, it draws on a wealth of sources in China and the West, many of which have never been used in any previous book for the general reader. Highly dramatic and colourful, with an amazing cast of characters, GENERALISSIMO explores Chiangs military and political career as well as revealing his equally complex private life. And while Chiang is the central figure, the book also presents a riveting history of pre-Communist China: a period of almost four decades during which tens of millions died in civil wars, floods, famines, and the fourteen-year conflict with Japan. It was an era when the Middle Kingdom flirted with the modern world, a time that ended in moral, political, economic and military decline which helped the Communists triumph, and a period during which the Generalissimo danced an intricate minuet with Japan!
, Stalin, Roosevelt and Truman that left deep scars in Western politics and policies.
Since his death in 1975, Chiang has been relegated to the shadows by the towering figure of his successor, Mao. This extraordinarily rich and gripping biography brings the Generalissimo centre-stage again, setting him in the context of a crucial period for China and the world and revealing the tide of events by which a third of humanity came to live the way it does today. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Then there is Madame Chiang who died just the other week at an incredibly advanced age - she wooed American politicians and barged into a summit conference with Churchill and Roosevelt in a way that no other leader's wife would have dared to do. Not being a specialist on China I can't judge the academic sourecs in the book but they seem to be pretty complete. As a general reader, I thoroughly recommend this as a tremednous read which really told me something about modern history.
This book generally follows a linear narrative into Chiang's life, except for the first chapter, where Chiang was captured by some of his own troops, led by one of the former Warlords and forced to cancel the planned attack against the Communists and focus on the Japanese instead (a truly pivotal moment indeed, who knows where we would be if the Communists had been defeated then). We get information about all the major palyers during this period and insights into Chiang's life, sparing no details and not hiding any aspect of Chiang 9his time in Shanghai was very enlightening)
The only real complaint that I had was that the final struggle with the Communists was rushed and Chiang's life in Taiwan was not covered at all really. Otherwise this is an excellent biography and look at this most interesting time of CHina
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The architect of Modern China
A riddle wrapped inside an enigma, was how Churchill described Russia. He may well have been describing Chiang Kai Shek. Read more
Fenby paints a very human picture of a man both great, imperfect, and ultimately not up to the nearly impossible task of uniting China after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Read morePublished on 4 July 2014 by George Norris
Having read Laura Tyson Li’s magnificent biography of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek (see my Amazon review), I then turned to this one of her husband. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2014 by Ralph Blumenau
As always brilliant by Fenby, but, do note, Kuomintang does not rpt not mean the Chinese revolutionary movement, but more simpkly the party [political]of the peoples of the... Read morePublished on 26 Dec. 2012 by R. S. Elegant Critic
I found this book to be a rivetting read about a fascinating period of history. Before reading I didn't know a lot about Chaing himself but had some general knowledge of the... Read morePublished on 10 Nov. 2012 by dave h
This is one of the best-researched China books I have read. It is brimful with detail and depicts the early-to-mid portion of the twentieth century through a Nationalist Party... Read morePublished on 15 July 2012 by Troy Parfitt
Having really enjoyed Fenby's book 'Alliance' (which drew my attention to Chiang) I was keen find out more about the man who some have labelled as insignificant. Read morePublished on 25 April 2011 by Jon A
Depressing, bleak and disturbing, Generalissimo is the story of one of the twentieth century's nearly men on the world stage. Read morePublished on 22 Jan. 2009 by Adam Graham Malster
This is a well presented and very interesting book that covers the life of Chiang Kai-shek upto 1949 and his flight to Taiwan. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2008 by Dr. R. Brandon