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Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World...

Title : Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World
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ISBN : 9781400061273
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
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Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World Reviews

  • Joe
    2019-03-14 13:25

    Book nine of the "Joey B reads himself some presidential goodness" series. I had been dreading reading about Richard Nixon. All I knew was that he is universally accepted as a horrible president and a horrible person. Was he? Mostly, but this book does raise some interesting issues.I decided to read this book as opposed to a general biography because I wanted to focus on the one act of his presidency that is widely seen as a triumph: his trip to China.I had always heard about this trip but didn't realize all the behind the scenes wrangling that had to occur to make it happen and then, once there, to make it a success.Nixon almost completely cut out the state department and was dealing with China directly and through Henry Kissinger. You have to admire his desire to cut through all the bureaucracy. This same desire to micromanage and control everything is what would ultimately lead to his downfall with Watergate.One of my favorite lines from the book said that Nixon wasn't a good person, but he wanted to be. He tried to be. He just wasn't that guy.I only gave this 3 stars because there was a bit too much China and not enough Nixon for my taste. It was interesting to hear about the behind the scenes struggles in China. I suppose if it had been just the Nixon side, it would have been a very short book.The biographical information on Nixon and Kissinger was fantastic and definitely makes the book worth a look. This helps to remember that even the worst presidents are still capable of doing good, even if it is for the wrong reasons. I mean, he founded the Environmental Protection Agency for Pete's sake!

  • Bill Manzi
    2019-03-06 10:28

    Margaret Macmillan brings us an entertaining and very well written book that details the Nixon opening to China, and how the visit in and of itself changed the world in substantive ways that we are still feeling today. The book title implies a focus on the actual Nixon-Mao meeting, but it brings us so much more than that. The Nixon-Mao meeting ended up being a bit of a substantive disappointment for Nixon. Mao, even in poor health, was simply too cagey to allow the conversation to get into specifics. He outsourced all of the detail work to Premier Zhou en-Lai, and did so, in part, for domestic political reasons. Although not covered in this book Mao would, at a later time, use the Nixon trip as one of several battering rams against Zhou. Macmillan brings us the back story to the opening, covering the Nixon views on China as he took office after winning the 1968 election. The selection of Henry Kissinger as National Security Advisor brought Nixon together with an individual that is renowned for foreign policy brilliance, but is also renowned for being as much of a publicity seeker as Nixon. While the impetus for the opening came from Nixon it was Kissinger who executed the strategy through negotiations with Premier Zhou en-Lai. The detail work was handled by those two immense personalities, with that interaction providing much of the basis for the summit ending Shanghai Communique. The book brings us some historical perspective on China, with a strong look at the events leading to the Chinese Communist Party winning the civil war with the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek, and the follow up to that victory leading to decades of diplomatic isolation between China and the U.S., including the hot war on the Korean peninsula. Without some understanding of that history the significance of the Nixon trip would be a little harder to understand. For me the star of the show has always been Zhou, who would have to be considered one of the major figures of the 20th century. Zhou was still working one of the greatest high wire acts in political history, navigating through the horrid excesses of the Cultural Revolution, when this diplomatic break through was engineered. Kissinger, in his memoirs, called Zhou one of the most impressive men he had ever met. “Foreigners who met him generally found him delightful and deeply civilized. Dag Hammarskjöld, the Swedish diplomat who had been the U.N.’s second secretary-general, thought he had “the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics.”17 Henry Kissinger, usually quite critical, was completely entranced. “He moved gracefully,” said Kissinger of their first meeting, “and with dignity, filling a room not by his physical dominance (as did Mao or de Gaulle) but by his air of controlled tension, steely discipline, and self-control, as if he were a coiled spring.” Kissinger, who was to have many hours of hard negotiations with Chou, found him “one of the two or three most impressive men I have ever met”—and a worthy adversary. “He was a figure out of history. He was equally at home in philosophy, reminiscence, historical analysis, tactical probes, humorous repartee.” Kindness, compassion, moderation—these were qualities both Chinese and foreigners saw in Chou."MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 802-804). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 796-802). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. The author brings us the complicated goals and objectives of each side, and a fair evaluation of how successful each was in achieving those goals. The clear “bear” in the room was the U.S.S.R., with both sides looking to strike a new equilibrium in world diplomacy by creating a check on Soviet influence and expansion via the new found friendship and joint antipathy towards nations that strove for “hegemony.” Nixon’s “triangulation,” was effective in creating some fear in the Soviet leadership, and without a doubt brought some short term political gains with the Soviets. Nixon was hoping for Chinese help with the intractable North Vietnamese, but on that score he came away disappointed. Zhou was not to be moved on that, but the Chinese, despite not giving Nixon the “help” he sought, took plenty of heat from the North Vietnamese for hosting Nixon while the United States was bombing their country. Zhou made clear that Nixon would leave empty handed on that issue: “Chou, as he had with Kissinger, refused to commit himself to helping the United States. China, he repeated, when he and Nixon returned to the subject of Indochina two days later, must support its friends, even—and this was a prescient observation on Chou’s part—if the peoples of Indochina embarked on wars among themselves after the Americans left. Whatever occurred would not be the fault of China, which only wanted peace and tranquillity in the region. If North Vietnam was expanding into Cambodia and Laos, he said, ignoring the long history of Vietnamese expansion into its neighbors’ territory, this was only because of its need to counter the United States.”“We can only go so far,” he added. “We cannot meddle into their affairs.” China would not negotiate on behalf of the peoples of Indochina. Nixon was forced to recognize that, as with the Soviet Union, linkage did not always work: “What the Prime Minister is telling us is that he cannot help us in Vietnam.” Chou underlined the message on February 28 as Nixon was preparing to leave China: “We have no right to negotiate for them. This I have said repeatedly. This is our very serious stand.”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 4704-4708). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. The big elephant in the room was the status of Taiwan, an issue that could have derailed the effort. On this matter both sides had serious political issues to solve, with limited room to maneuver. On the American side Richard Nixon’s long political history had helped to create, over the years, a poisonous atmosphere for any American diplomatic effort to deal with the issue of China, and Indo-China, in a pragmatic way. The “who lost China” attacks on the U.S. State Department and the scourge that was McCarthyism drove our best talent out of the State Department, and Nixon was a big part of that effort. He was considered to be a staunch ally of Taiwan, and I think it fair to say that any effort, before 1968, to normalize relations with “Communist China” would have been met with a vociferous attack by the GOP. President Kennedy had discussions with his foreign policy team about China, and came to the conclusion that it was a subject best left for a second term, with the potential backlash from the “China lobby” not worth the political lift. (John F. Kennedy: A Biography by Michael O’Brien)“On the right, Senator McCarthy and his supporters, who included a young Richard Nixon, made much of the fact that many American diplomats in China had predicted the collapse of the Guomindang, evidence enough for conspiracy theorists that such men had actively worked for the Communist victory. The diplomats were summoned to congressional hearings, where their motives and loyalty were freely impugned. The impact on the State Department and on the capacity of the United States to understand what was going on in Asia was huge. Seasoned and knowledgeable experts were driven out or resigned in disgust. Those who survived were kept away from anything to do with Asia; one of the department’s leading China specialists ended up as ambassador in Iceland. The department as a whole was shell-shocked and became increasingly timid in offering unpalatable advice to its political masters. A young man who started out as a junior diplomat in Hong Kong in the late 1950s remembered older colleagues who were careful about what they sent back to Washington. “I don’t think it meant not reporting facts,” he said; “it’s just that one was cautious.” On the other hand, the experience of being in Hong Kong tended to make the American China watchers more pragmatic than their superiors back in Washington. The lack of relations between two such big countries seemed absurd, an anomaly that they assumed must be temporary. “Well, you know,” said an American diplomat, “what the hell, China’s there, we’re going to have to recognize it. I mean, it was a fact of life. It wasn’t through admiration, it was just, well, let’s get on with it.”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 1937-1940). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. But Nixon was not about to let his past posturing on this issue prevent progress once he deemed it necessary. While the Shanghai Communique finessed the issue of Taiwan the U.S. concessions were clear, and Kissinger privately promised more to come in a Nixon second teem. (Even Nixon remained somewhat fearful of attacks from the right on this issue.) Despite that fear Nixon’s ruthless embrace of realpolitik, and his willingness to be less than honest with prior allies, drove him forward. “Nevertheless, in his first years as president, even while he was re-thinking his China policy, Nixon continued to reassure Chiang of his support. “I will never sell you down the river,” he told Chiang’s son in the spring of 1970. As the secret channel to Beijing began to produce results, Nixon had to face doing just that. In April 1971, as they waited anxiously for Chou’s reply to one of Nixon’s messages, Nixon told Kissinger, “Well, Henry, the thing is the story change is going to take place, it has to take place, it better take place when they got a friend here rather than when they’ve got an enemy here.” Kissinger agreed: “No, it’s a tragedy that it has to happen to Chiang at the end of his life, but we have to be cold about it.” In the end, said Nixon, “We have to do what’s best for us.” As Kissinger prepared to leave for his secret trip to China, Nixon gave him some last instructions: “he wished him not to indicate a willingness to abandon much of our support for Taiwan until it was necessary to do so.”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 4457-4461). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Yet the Chinese Communists had made it amply clear that without American concessions on Taiwan, they were not prepared to move forward to put Sino-American relations on a more normal footing. Moreover, as Chou, a master at diplomacy himself, well knew, negotiations proceed by a combination of clear statements, hints, and suggestions. Kissinger, when it was necessary, gave firm commitments to the Chinese, but he also hinted at more to come once Nixon had been reelected as president in the fall of1972. The United States, he said categorically, did not support the idea of two Chinas or of a mainland China and a Taiwan. The United States accepted the Chinese claim that Taiwan was a part of China, although here he expressed himself cautiously, saying that the United States would like to see a solution of the issue “within the framework of one China.” As he said to Chou, 'There’s no possibility in the next one and a half years for us to recognize the PRC as the sole government of China in a formal way.' Once Nixon had made a successful visit to China, Kissinger promised, and once he had been reelected for a second term, the United States would be able to move ahead rapidly to establish full and normal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. 'Other political leaders,” he told Chou in what was a familiar theme, 'might use more honeyed words, but would be destroyed by what is called the China lobby in the U.S. if they ever tried to move even partially in the direction which I have described to you.' ”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 4489-4495). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. The Chinese side, having the same desire for progress, took the long view on Taiwan, accepting a split view with the Americans on Taiwan, but pocketing the idea that Taiwan was part of China, and the creation of the “One China” policy, which remains U.S. policy to this day. “Not all the concessions, by any means, came from the American side. The Chinese accepted that the United States could not turn away from Taiwan overnight. Mao was particularly pleased, however, when Kissinger, on his first visit, promised that at least some of the American troops would be pulled out. The United States, Mao exclaimed to Chou, was evolving. Like an ape moving toward becoming a human being, its tail—its forces in Taiwan, in this case—was growing shorter. Armed with Mao’s approval, Chou talked in a friendly and positive way about the gradual lowering of tension over Taiwan and the normalization of relations between China and the United States. Although American troops were clearly going to remain in Taiwan for some time, he conceded that normalization of relations could proceed in parallel rather than, as the Chinese had first insisted, with the troop withdrawal as a precondition. In a chat that autumn of 1971 with Jack Service, a former American diplomat whom he had known during the Second World War, Chou made it clear he understood that American policy on Taiwan would have to evolve over time.”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 4514-4515). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. There is no question that Nixon and Mao painted the broad strokes on the canvas, but Kissinger and Zhou made this effort work. The Shanghai Communique was and is a testament to the essential brilliance and commitment to success that both had. This break-through was as much their achievement as it was their bosses. Kissinger, still alive, remains a subject of bitter controversy for some of the things he did while working for Nixon, but his work here, in my view, was first rate. Secretary of State William Rodgers was essentially ignored by Nixon and Kissinger on this initiative as well as generally. Kissinger expressed some regret over his treatment of Rodgers in his memoirs, and that dynamic is also covered here. With China now newly assertive, and becoming an economic behemoth the history of U.S.-China relations has never been more important. Did Nixon and Kissinger make the right move? There is no doubt that both believed they did, but MacMillan offers us a tidbit from Kissinger: “In a discussion a few months later at the National Security Council, Kissinger wondered about the consequences of bringing China out of its isolation, “whether we really want China to be a world power like the Soviet Union, competing with us, rather than their present role which is limited to aiding certain insurgencies.”MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (Kindle Locations 1053-1055). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. The idea that China could be permanently “isolated” is of course ludicrous, but how we interact with them economically and militarily remains the subject of major debate in the United States. This book helps us to understand how that debate started.

  • Matt
    2019-03-05 18:19

    MacMillan entertains as well as educates readers yet again, exploring some of the most important aspects of the 20th century. Her focus, the February 1972 meeting between Nixon and Mao; her hypothesis, that it formulated a permanent change whose reverberations are still being felt around the world. While only an hour face-to-face, this meeting and its lead-up set the groundwork for lasting change in three major ways: political developments on many fronts, ideological shifts in the midst of the Cold War, and geopolitical progressions/regressions. MacMillan takes the time to lay out her arguments in a clear and thorough manner to argue that the summit was, indeed, highly effective in shaping Sino-American relations, as well as moving the world as a whole towards a better understanding of its conflicts, all while close to the lair of the Soviet Bear.MacMillan argues that the Nixon-Mao meeting, and by extension those beforehand by Kissinger and Chou, helped to solidify many political developments that, in turn, had major and lasting effects around the world. MacMillan goes far to argue that China's role and involvement in the politics of other Asian states heaps additional power onto the PRC, offering a moniker of regional power broker. Through its summit, the US and China could forge platonic respect and understanding that would help to lessen the vilification of the former in the Asian sphere. While MacMillan does not support that the summit led directly to the end of the Vietnam War (where North Vietnamese communists signed treaties, knowing their Chinese comrades were on good relations), she is clear that there was a move in that direction. Perhaps the greatest political move to come from the summit was the US acceptance of mainland China as 'the' China, much to the chagrin of some Asian allies and to the joy of those in Europe and North America. Precarious as it was, it was also momentous in moving the political game piece forward. The opening of relations between the US and China permitted an ongoing dialogue, which, in turn, helped the two sides work towards resolution of the region's conflicts and help bolster a political position whereby two strong actors could speak in harmony, if not in unison. MacMillan argues effectively that the political power held by China over its regional 'red' governments may have gone far in paving the way to normalised political relations with the United States. It also helped show the world that there was a political alternative in the midst of the Cold War, an actor that could effect change who was not about to use faux-Marxist rhetoric and bang the proverbial shoe on the table to seek to be heard. This shift away the USSR's political influence, long seen as the other superpower and consummate communist sphere of influence holder, awoke a sleeping giant of ideological negotiating, long left to whither in the cold.MacMillan also argues that the meeting opened the door to conversations between the leaders of the diametrically opposed ideological camps. She insinuates that the reader must accept China as the better communist representative in the discussion, clearly denoting an open dialogue speaks volumes over the rigid chest thumping and doctrine-spouting coming from Moscow. Pulling no punches in her historical groundwork, MacMillan shows how both Mao and Nixon came to hate the other's ideological stance, but were able to look past this to meet and forge great discussions. These talks superseded the ideological expectations they had of one another and laid the groundwork to prove more effective than any talks either had with the USSR to that point. Strengthened by a heightened hatred of the USSR, China sought to educate the US on how un-Marxist their communist brothers were and how the ideological differences need not be an impediment to successful relations, though both would remain leery of the other for years to come. This was, perhaps, the opening cracks in the Cold War walls and could surely have led to the beginning of capitalist-communist relations whose symbolic start is usually attributed to the Reagan-Gorbachev dialogues.From a geographic standpoint, the opening of political relations permitted the thorny discussion of Taiwan to come to the forefront. Perhaps the strongest stalemate between the two sides, Taiwan became the issue that Mao would not permit to come up during the brief interaction with Nixon. In conjunction with the negotiations taking place, the worldview of Taiwan as the legitimate China was fast losing ground, as MacMillan writes, paralleling one of Kissinger's pre-summit meetings with Chou. The United Nations' vote in 1971 saw them expelled and the PRC take up rightful ownership of all things China. However, Nixon and Kissinger sought to come to terms with the strong Taiwan policy advocated by the US and their strong relations with the self-proclaimed rightful Republic of China. It was not until the final communique that this came to the forefront and almost cost all other progress made throughout the time Nixon spent in China. The eventual acceptance of a mainland China as 'the' China may have cemented the entire summit's progress, leaving Mao to realise he had finally scored the most important point for China since 1949. That said, the US was left to juggle all its allies and to appease some while straining relations with others. MacMillan points out how tenuous the trust became between the US and their Japanese/Philippine allies thereafter, while Canada and Western Europe applauded the result. To this day, the Taiwan situation remains somewhat clouded, though, as Mao put it, why should the world stick its nose into how the US and Delaware are getting along, as a state's internal issues are all their own?The momentous nature of this summit cannot be downplayed. From strong enemies during the Korean War, with PoWs on both sides, the US and China chose to openly accept one another and finally meet in February 1972. Surely a pill that needed ingesting, but to see such steps being made at such a critical point in the Cold War should not escape the reader. Her frank ability to lay out the historical facts and let the reader come to their own conclusions is surely one of MacMillan's greatest gifts, as well as spinning the tale so effortlessly. She does not downplay or over-inflate the historical or political significance of this, but chooses to allow all those who've come to the table to take from it what they will, as Mao would surely have expected.Kudos Dr. MacMillan for all your hard work arguing this most interesting point of view. I learned a great deal and am happy to have taken the time to delve into this historical landmark, told in so concise a manner.

  • Jeni Enjaian
    2019-03-17 12:34

    I'm adding Margaret MacMillan to my list of favorite authors of history. Quite simply, she did a masterful job weaving together a complex story using the structure of Nixon's historic week long visit to China. It does not hurt that the narrator was pretty spectacular too.MacMillan walked a delicate line as she weaved back and forth between narration of the specific events of that particular week and several background biographies of the principal characters, American and Chinese, and of the countries themselves. (Not entire biographies obviously, but biographies tailored to the theme of the book.I have to admit though that this book requires careful attention, more than I gave it as I listened. At times the audio became a bit like background noise and I missed transitions from past to "present" or vice versa which became a bit confusing. This confusion also increased a bit as the book drew to a conclusion and the time gap between past and "present" narrowed.That being said, this book more than peaked my interest in a whole variety of topics, such as the extremely perplexing one of how Richard Nixon was elected to the presidency, twice. :)I definitely recommend this book.

  • Dirkus
    2019-03-07 17:36

    Perhaps relevent given all the nonsense talk of "appeasement" in today's campaign. Once again: praise be to MacMillian. Her previous book has singlehandedly overturned the Keynesian interpretation of the Versailles Tready that dominated for some 70 years. Here she gives a tremendous account of everything that went into getting the two titans together, from the grandiose to the rediculous. Each chapter provides the necessary history to give the reader the proper grounding in topics such as Chinese history recent and ancient, the political tone in the U.S., the tension in Southern Asia, and all that goes into international diplomacy. Some of it quite silly. Chou en Lie and Kissenger play their roles like a high stake game of Go, and an underrated president gets some fair treatment. Also, MacMillan serves as a solid exception to the otherwise warrented notion that the fairer sex doesn't have the even-headedness to properly tackle history.She's a national tresure.

  • Omar Ali
    2019-03-16 10:31

    A rare book that delivers more than it promises. Short but interesting looks at the careers of Zhou, Mao and Lin Biao as well as Nixon. And of course Henry Kissinger gets a lot of coverage too. Rich in detail about the diplomacy and planning leading up to the visit. Very readable and packed with interesting anecdotes as well as some very objective analysis. Steers clear of postmodern guilt AND imperialist propaganda. Great job.

  • Patrick
    2019-03-12 14:20

    Ending this book with a quotation from Star Trek really rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Relstuart
    2019-03-23 15:08

    In February 1972, American president Richard Nixon, became the first American president to visit China. This visit was the beginning of China opening up again in some ways to the rest of the world and shifted some focus from their internal things to also being engaged with the rest of the world. It was a significant event in the Cold War as it made the USSR and other communist nations nervous that the USA and China began to get along so well. For Nixon, the move made sense. He cared very deeply about foreign affairs and longed to do something significant in a positive way in that arena (finishing the Vietnam war was another effort that was taking much of his time and attention, he ran his first campaign on a promise to get the USA out of Vietnam). For China, they were nervous about their relations with the USSR and the border violence they were engaged in on multiple occasions. Both the USSR, China, and America saw themselves as world leaders. The book gives a brief biography of Nixon, Mao, Kissinger (the president's advisor) and Chou (the acting Prime Minister/Secretary of State of China) and a few other players. One of the fascinating things about the process is how little Nixon involved and trusted the American State Department. He kept the plan to go to China a secret from them and the nation and sent Kissinger to negotiate the visit and begin working on what they wanted to accomplish with the visit in secret. A couple things from the biographies that stood out. First on Nixon, "He (Nixon) was generous to his staff but he seems to not have known how to treat them as human beings. He never thought for example, to ask Haldeman how many children he had. And though his Chief of Staff spent hours with him every day, the president only once invited him and his wife to a purely social dinner. Haldeman, who tried to anticipate everything, once tried to find a friend for Nixon, someone he could confide in. Nixon was astonished. In any case, he already had the perfect friend in Bebe Reboso, "a genial, discreet sponge, who sat silently for hours while Nixon held forth. Otherwise it is difficult to know who Nixon was close to. His daughters, certainly; his wife, Pat, although he rarely showed any interest in her after their first few years of marriage. He had thousands of acquaintances but very few close friends. He often talked about his mother , who was widely held to be a saintly figure who had suffered the early deaths of two of her children. She was a cold saint, however, doing her duty uncomplainingly but never showing her children any open affection or warmth. Nixon told his sympathetic biographer, Jonathan Aitken, that his mother never kissed him. When Aitken seemed surprised, Nixon grew angry. Aitken's reaction, Nixon felt, was like something from "one of those rather pathetic Freudian psychiatrists." Yet he wept in Billy Graham's arms when his mother died. Henry Kissinger, who could be so cruel about Nixon, once said, "He would have been a great man had somebody loved him." "Although he (Mao) wrote one of his most lovely poems about her and in his old age described her as the love of his life, Mao abandoned his first wife and their young sons in the turbulent days of the late 1920s without any apparent regret. Yang Kaihui moved back to Changsha to be near her family, and Mao made no attempt to keep in touch with her. In a series of letters that miraculously survived, she wrote with increasing desperation of her continuing love for Mao, her misery at being abandoned, and her fears for herself and her children as the Guuomindang tightened its grip. In 1930, in retaliation for Communist attacks on Changsha, the local nationalist general her executed. She was only 29. In 1928, while Yang was still alive, Moa got married again, to a young girl from the countryside, He Zizhen, who agreed, rather reluctantly, to become his "revolutionary companion." She was to pay a heavy price, suffering through the Long March and repeated pregnancies and miscarriages until Mao, in turn, abandoned her for a younger, more glamorous woman. His last and final marriage was to the Shanghai actress, Jiang Quing. When that marriage, in turn, soured, he preferred to avoid the divorce and simply took mistresses, sometimes several at once. It was easy enough for Mao to get them from among his nurses and assistants or from a special army company of dancers and singers. "Selecting imperial concubines" was how a senior general described it. Mao preferred young, simple, girls who felt deeply honored to be chosen by this great man, even to the point of catching a venereal disease from him. When his doctors suggested that the chairman might want to stop his sexual activities while the disease was being treated, Mao refused. "If it's not hurting me," he said airily "then it doesn't matter." As far as hygiene was concerned, Mao's solution was more sex: "I wash myself inside the bodies of my women." Two things that we didn't see a lot of discussion on that I would have been interested in, Eisenhower's success in foreign policy and how Nixon never gained Eisenhower's respect and trust like Nixon wanted. Did that impact Nixon and his desire to do something significant in foreign policy? Second, a bit more explanation on how things shifted, if at all, for the military with the China visit. Interestingly, while the State Department was left in the dark, the Joint Chiefs of Staff knew what was going on with the China visit. Not because Nixon told them or wanted them to know, but because they had a spy who reported the developments with China back to the Joint Chiefs. Overall a well written account of the meeting and fallout from the China visit by Nixon. In the polls Nixon, running for his second term, rose significantly to a 56% approval rating nationwide. Nearly 70% of those polled believed his trip had been useful. The trip in China was frequently carefully orchestrated for lots of pictures and video. It was estimated that 98% of the nation saw press coverage of the meeting with China, a massive PR victory for Nixon. However, there were some negative consequences too. Nixon by making his trip a secret until it was happening, avoided negative press inside America. But, he also offended allies who blindsided by the visit. England's Prime Minister was personally offended, thinking he had been friends with Nixon he never forgave him for not bothering to tell him about the China trip and as a result focused more on building ties with Europe and moving England away from a close relationship with America. Several other nations expressed their shock and dismay on not being brought into the loop until after the trip and agreement between the USA and China, among them: New Zealand, Australia, the Philippians, Japan and especially Taiwan. This weakened the trust between the USA and many allies. The meeting helped open the doors for China to begin becoming the economic powerhouse it grew to be. Overall, while the meeting between Nixon and Mao personally profited Nixon, and it was what he felt was his greatest accomplishment, it's not clear (to me) it was the right thing and the world is a better place for it.

  • Jay Wal
    2019-02-21 10:10

    Summery report on the bookNIXON MEETS MAO THE WEEK THAT CHANGED THE WORLDIn General, with President Nixon visit to mainland China, along with his staff, there was some pros, but much more cons with this visit. Especially with what was the end result, with the aftermath. Much was to some suspicions Mao-Tse-Tong, his side of the negotiations. Most of the book, at first was more about history, of much of the Chinese officials, and the Americans. But most of all, the real Issue is Taiwan. The overall concern Nixon and Kissinger had was Taiwan. As a result, Taiwan took the back seat, and not only that, but pretty much lost a lot it's allied status , like losing it's first negotiation, seat in the United Nations. Therefore being replaced by mainland China. This definitely angered Pat Buchanan, Nixon's speak writer, saying “ This was a sell-out.” So I myself, don't think tis was to any advantage not only to Taiwan, but also to much of our allies in the Asian theater. The Chines knew one thing, that was for sure, and that was the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, but but this time in 1972, the unpopularity of the war has grown an all time high. Also the mainland Chinese knew that President Nixon decision to pull out was eminent. From what I have read, that Mao, was a fair honest man, about how he sees the American public officials. When he said, the right wing always does what they say they will, will, but the left wing says one thing and does another. Now that I can go along witch is definitely more true in 2016, than ever. However knowingly the communists and the socialist believe in gender equality, they do as far as displaying anything in regards to the cultural revolution, in public, but in private MAO would not have his wife present at meetings. But the mainland Chines, have a bold commitment, that Taiwan is part of China, But the other side says different. Since Taiwan lost it's negotiation table in the U.N., I have lost respect for the United Nations, and all the other wrong full, doing they did for the last past 46 years. The U.N. has grown to more and more arrogant as time went on. They want more and more power over the entire planet. Just like the movie “ left Behind” indicates, how the U. N. operates. I felt strongly, that Nixon and Kissinger, should of thought at least 5 times as much, before saying or doing anything, that will sell-out Taiwan. And tat was what happen as a net result. And several years later, what else was the net result?Saigon fell, on 04/30/1975, to the communists. South Vietnam, as a result is part of North Vietnam, a communist country, mainland China has power over Taiwan, and now the U.S. deficit is about $185 trillion. Now it is not the Chinese fault. It is the U.S. fault, with leftist that is running the show. And Donald Trump made himself Crystal clear. Some good came out knowingly, that they are at odds with the Soviet Union. Both Mao, and Chou has concerns, about President Nixon's trip to the Soviet Union. Interesting I found hard to believe is that with the war mainland China has with Soviets, the Soviet encourage India to attack mainland China. But I found it to be absurd, that the author of this book, would say mainland China is one of the most civilized countries in the world. No communist country has ever been that way, when they persecute, and incarcerate those who have political disagreement. That to me is not a civilized nation. Also to say it supports freedom, and independence of other countries, that have more freedom than they do? Especially, when Mainland China, has been listed as one of the top 5, with human rights violations. They rank very well, and not exactly in this order, but they rank with Iraq, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. No, I totally disagree with author. Now the poles said when Nixon returned back home, the poles say 70 % of the American people approved of the visit. No to many people talked with back then approved. But the good results was:1.) There was some sustainment with the Soviet Union, and 18 years later, the communist, governments in Russia, and Eastern Europe fell.2.) Mainland China started later to practice capitalism.The bed results was: 1.) Taiwan lost it's seat in the U.N.2.) All of Vietnam is a communist nation.3.) The U.S. is in $185 Trillion in debt, with Mainland China.This is what “ The week that changed the world.” Gave us.

  • Billy
    2019-03-22 16:31

    In Nixon and Mao, historian Margaret MacMillan weaves a flowing narrative that recounts the events of one historic week for U.S. foreign relations. In February of 1972, Richard Nixon became the first American President to visit China. While isolationism had been China’s overarching foreign policy, a recent Communist overthrow and Mao Tse-tung’s rise to power made this Cold War meeting finally possible. Both Nixon and Mao prided themselves on their abilities as statesmen, and each recognized an opportunity to establish positive foreign relations, but MacMillan takes great care to point out that these two leaders were not alone in making this meeting possible. Also important were Nixon and Mao’s far-thinking statesmen. The aging Mao entrusted Chou En-lai, who acted as a tour guide and a realpolitical voice for his ailing chairman. For Nixon, Henry Kissinger performed much of the legwork that made this historical visit possible.Of course, by 1972 both sides had something to gain. China was growing weary of its Soviet communist neighbors to the north and also hoped to establish new credibility within the United Nations, especially in the hopes of swaying international opinion against Taiwan. For the United State, China might help Nixon find a respectable route out of Vietnam. Also, the Chinese economy held the promise for immense trade possibilities with American businessmen. In short, by 1972 the historical timing was right, and a few driven individuals helped to make this historic week in U.S. foreign relations happen. Within the span of 338 pages, MacMillan sheds light on the complexities in preparing for and conducting a political meeting of tremendous symbolic importance, a task made all the more difficult because these men had no precedent on which to build. In the realm of U.S. foreign relations, China remained literally uncharted territory, making this meeting all the more impressive and important.Nixon and Mao is the much anticipated follow up to MacMillan’s 2002 critically acclaimed book, Paris 1919. Comparisons between these two works are unavoidable for a number of reasons. Curiously, both books hold different titles on each side of the Atlantic. For example, what Americans know as Paris 1919 is known in England as Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and its Attempt to End War. In a similar fashion, America’s Nixon and Mao becomes Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao. The publishers’ choice to alter titles may say much about Americans disdain for complex titles and our inclination towards world changing events. Also, both American publications share eerily similar subtitles: Six Months that Changed the World and The Week That Changed the World respectively. So, did Nixon’s week in China actually change the world? To be fair, the title is a direct quote from Nixon, and not the author’s own estimation. But readers will note that MacMillan never takes a strong stance on Nixon’s statement; in fact, she never clearly defines a simple argument. This lack of a clearly defined thesis statement can most likely be attributed to the complexities of subsequent Sino-American relations. MacMillan’s argument is subtle. Nixon and Mao’s conclusion does help to explain how history unfolded for these men and their countries after meeting, and this pastiche of biographical and historical information shows that, yes, the world did change. America and China established tense but working foreign relations. But did either side really attain what they wanted? Mao hoped that an alliance with America would help China gain international prestige, as well as conduct technological exchanges with the United States. Also, Mao hoped for U.S. support in the U.N., especially regarding international acceptance of Taiwan as an autonomous entity separate from China. Put simply, MacMillan may have been astute in avoiding a clearly defined thesis statement, as the complex nature of international Cold War politics do not always lend themselves to simple answers. Most likely, it is safe to assume that Nixon’s week may have changed the world, but not in one single, clearly recognizable way.

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-11 10:28

    This book has been riveting to read. All of this history happened during my lifetime.. I was just too small to remember any of it. C said that the only thing that he really didn't like about President Nixon is that the Watergate hearings bumped his favorite program The Flintstones. You can see that point of view I'm sure. Anyway we were young, but are living in a time now where Nixon's opening of China has made great changes in the world we live in today. I honestly don't know that there would have been a lot of other men who would have been able to wrangle this deal other than Nixon and Kissinger. There were so many who were morally opposed to the trip.William F. Buckley, someone I greatly admire, was invited on the trip by President Nixon and attended a banquet in China given in honor of the Americans by the Chinese. He had this to say about it, "It is unreasonable to suppose that anywhere in history have a few dozen men congregated who have been responsible for greater human mayhem that the hosts at this banquet and their spiritual colleagues, instruments all of Mao Tse-tung. The effect was as if Sir Hartley Shawcross had suddenly risen from the prosecutor's stand at Nuremberg and descended to embrace Goering and Goebbels and Doenitz and Hess, begging them to join with him in the making of a better world." An exaggeration.. Not hardly. Estimates suggest that Mao Tse-tung is responsible for the deaths either by political persecution or starvation of more than 40 Million people. There are many books that detail the brutality of Mao and his followers among them, the famous Life and Death in Shanghai extremely well written by Nien Cheng. My friend Circe also recommended a book I read several years ago called Mao's Last Dancer that chronicles the peasants struggle to avoid starvation due to the policies of Chairman Mao. At one point the author relates where as a child he realizes that his family is competing for their food sources with rats.. either they will starve or the rats will starve. It's heartbreaking.And yet, Nixon wanted desperately to talk with the Chinese. His objective was complicated. The United States was in the middle of the Cold War with Russia; talking with the Chinese gave that government a sort of 3rd power status that created a thaw in U.S. / Russian relations and more caution on the part of Russia. Our relations with China after the Korean conflict and during Vietnam were difficult and possibly dangerous. Also, businessmen in the United States saw huge and lucrative markets and wanted in. There is no question that Sino/American trade has made untold fortunes for both countries. There were many other reasons Nixon wanted to go, but paramount among them was to ensure peace. That's a good reason I think. And, I don't know if Nixon thought of this because it wasn't mentioned in the book, but I think that it's obvious that contact with the western world has brought a measure of liberty to China.. not yet what one would hope for, but I think it's coming. Nixon, who is remembered by most of the populace for Watergate, wanted to be remembered for this one week which he considered his greatest achievement.

  • Jerome
    2019-03-05 12:18

    A rich, dramatic and well-written history of Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, with a focus on the diplomacy of the visit itself and its modest achievements. MacMillan gives us great portraits of the main players and covers such details as Nixon’s struggle to learn how to eat with chopsticks on the flight over as well as his attempts to keep Secretary Rogers out of the loop, and how secretively Nixon and Kissinger planned the visit. Kissinger had stressed secrecy during his preliminary visit, which baffled Mao and Zhou. Although Kissinger claimed that he did this in order to avoid a backlash from American conservatives, MacMillan suggests that Nixon and Kissinger were just used to operating this way. She also notes how both sides viewed Nixon’s visit as a photo-op, and Nixon’s various gaffes like his remarks on the Great Wall (“This is a great wall”)MacMillan also describes Mao’s apparent lack of concern with practical questions and the anger of the North Vietnamese at Mao’s willingness to negotiate and Mao’s own impatience with Hanoi (Mao offered the North Vietnamese a single suggestion: to sign a peace deal and continue the war once the US withdrew) MacMillan also covers the challenges posed by Taiwan, the attempts of the Shanghai regional government to sabotage the talks, and the now-obvious irony that trade issues were barely discussed. “I like to deal with rightists,” Mao remarked of Nixon. “They say what they really think---not like the leftists, who say one thing and mean another.” The Chinese hoped to resolve the Taiwan issue, but Nixon’s overture and decades of further diplomacy with the US have failed to resolve the issue. And, of course, the Chinese were unable to pressure North Vietnam to end the war on terms that favored the US.There is little on Chinese politics, however, and even on any analysis of what the trip meant, or how it “changed the world,” and the narrative skips back and forth a bit, especially when it comes to the roots of the two nations’ reconciliation (which also makes the narrative a bit repetitive). She also writes that the president of Taiwan was elected in 2004 (it was 2000), that US troops “poured into” China in World War II, and that Madame Chiang Kai-Shek was Chiang’s second wife. But, still, an accessible, engaging and readable work.

  • Louise
    2019-03-09 12:16

    Like most Americans at the time (pre-internet & 24/7 news) one day I learned that there were American ping pong players in China and not long after that our president would be going. Like all diplomatic breakthroughs, it did not "just happen" and Margaret MacMillan describes details on both sides.I did not know that this was Nixon's initiative and that Kissinger, at first, was a reluctant follower. I did not know that upon departure, there was no firm commitment from the Chinese that Nixon and Mao would meet. The Americans didn't know that the Chinese themselves didn't know whether their mercurial and ailing leader would see the American President.MacMillan recounts the diplomacy up to and after the event. There are risks involved for both sides. MacMillan describes the fissures in the Chinese-Russian relations, the China-Taiwan issues at the UN and how US allies responded when they were blindsided. A visit from Ronald Reagan was made to help cool the outraged Taiwan. Some of the staffs of both sides resent this consorting with the "enemy". Rosemary Wood (who has 18 minutes of fame later on) has trouble stomaching this trip into "red" territory.We learn how the VietNam War and the Cultural Revolution both promoted and impacted the trip. Kissinger says bombing has been suspended for the duration of the trip, the Chinese say it has not been. The Chinese get a glimpse of a photocopier and have to bring translators out of internal exile (the Cultural Revolution is not yet over) for assistance.This is an important book for bringing together so many elements of a week that has made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people. Upon finishing it, one wonders if Nixon, and you come to understand that it is Nixon leading here, had he not done this at this time, how would the narrative be different.

  • Brian
    2019-03-20 15:22

    Nixon and Mao provides a great look at how these two enemies came together to begin a rapprochement that would change the dynamic of modern world history and begin to crumble the traditional roles of the Cold War. It would bring a president whose paranoia matched those of the people he negotiated with. Margaret MacMIllain does a superb job of blending together the complex array of issues facing a negotiation with the Chinese. From Kissinger's secret visit via Pakistan to the handshake that changed modern times all of the events are explained succinctly and in very thoughtful detail throughout the book.While this trip was not heavy on substance or details it provided the symbolic importance of establishing Nixon as a premier foreign policy president and delivered a setback against the Russians. While the Japanese and the Taiwanese were scared at a possible rapprochement between the United States and China they were reassured by Kissinger and Nixon that this thaw was for the better. It did not lead to a solution in Vietnam but did contribute to a commercial opportunity for American markets (and some might argue for our eventual economic downfall and rise of Chinese prominence.) By meeting Mao in person and working through Chou (Chinese foreign minister) Nixon and Kissinger were able to pull of a diplomatic coup d'état that few thought possible at that time in world history.For those who want to read a top notch diplomatic history that covers the political, economic and social ramifications in a succinct and thoughtful manner than this is the book for you. With just the right amount of detail MacMillian delivers another historical blockbuster that is well worth the time to read.

  • Garren
    2019-03-19 17:14

    The actual meeting between Nixon and Mao was boring and uneventful. However, this books is really about everything surrounding the meeting, which was much more significant. MacMillan makes the invisible nature of diplomatic tensions and maneuvers visible, as if she is adding dye to an apparently placid river and revealing the patterns of turbulence beneath. Beyond the diplomatic procedural account of "the week that changed the world," several chapters are devoted to the personal background of the four principal men. Nixon and Mao are obvious, but what surprised me was the depth of coverage both Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai received. Whatever their official titles, these two were clearly acting as prime ministers to their nations. It was their meeting according to their plans, in all but the final credit.I've come to appreciate Nixon as a passionate man whose broken personality continually tripped up his ideals. I've also come to despise Mao. MacMillan may have tried to humanize him with so many biographical details, but to humanize a great figure does mean necessarily result in sympathy. I found Mao to be morally despicable, artistically inane, and politically helpless without Zhou's orchestration. Felt sated at about the half-way point. This book is longer than it really needs to be, but each additional chapter was new material, not rehash. Stopping says much more about me than about this book.

  • John
    2019-03-13 10:32

    Another greatly researched book by MacMillan, with detailed coverage of the event itself, and the surrounding history and contemporary impact in the US, China and the other affected countries. The Chinese come across as rather blustery, perhaps due their lack of outside contact at the time, and the ravages on diplomacy from the Cultural Revolution. Kissinger, especially, but Nixon as well, appear a bit obsequious in their political (and for their legacies) need to ensure a deal.I deduct a star because, like with a couple of her other works, her editors have failed her in some places. Some interesting text throughout lack attributions in the Notes. On page 72 the text has numerous typos. Most seriously, at the beginning (page 8), it talks about Nixon as a "young soldier in the army", when he was actually in the Navy. That might seem a trivial quibble, but, coming as it did at the very beginning, it made me wonder reading throughout the rest of the work if other factual errors were included.Details of the very problematic Sino-Soviet relations since the 1949 Chinese communist takeover were useful, and worthy of further study.Well worth the read, though. I remember the visit, and what a shock it was that Tricky Dicky would make such a bold and important overture to what were the inscrutable, belligerent Commie devils.

  • Zach
    2019-03-16 11:29

    The book is an interesting overview of the openning of US-China relations. The author does an effective job of describing all of the events and personalities surrounding the eventual meetings (from ping-pong diplomacy, the logistics of the actual trip, biographies of the major players). Much this has been covered in more detail in other books (biographies of Nixon, Mao, histories of China etc) but the book is interesting and does cover a lot of ground, which helps illustrate the importance of this event in the Cold War and the present international system. While the book does an effective job of showing the diplomatic/strategic concerns that impacted the decision to negotiate/meet by both sides (Vietnam, Taiwan, USSR)--(possible impact on US relations with other smaller state allies ie Philipines fear of being "abandoned" as it viewed Taiwan had been)--However, the title of the book "The Week that Changed the Word" may lead some to believe that the book will examine the larger impact of US-Sino relations on our history. The book only touches on this very briefly in the conclusion. In all fairness, it would be difficult to examine the description of the meeting as well as the larger impacts. Readers should be aware that the book is more of a history rather than an analysis of international relations.

  • Simon
    2019-02-24 15:14

    Good, brisk account of Nixon's visit to China, which was called "Red" China by many at the time. MacMillan dryly describes the complicated relationship among Nixon, Kissinger (NSA at the time) and William Rogers, Nixon's hapless Secretary of State. Kissinger and Nixon were off the ranch a lot of the time when it came to foreign policy, preferring private machinations and negotiations rather than using the normal diplomatic channels. MacMillan concludes that Nixon disliked Kissinger, and that Kissinger returned it with interest.MacMillan is less successful in her analysis of Mao and his leadership. It is clear that the Chairman wanted the trip, and when he was lucid (without ever mentioning Trudeau's Doonesbury satire of the visit, we understand where he got the character of "Honey"), Mao had a very firm grasp as to what Nixon and China stood to gain from a normalization of relations.But I can't help thinking that he would be surprised by the results forty years on.A very readable account that will undoubtedly springboard the reader to more in-depth analyses of Nixon and Kissinger, and perhaps even Mao Tse Dung.

  • Terry Earley
    2019-03-20 18:26

    I enjoyed MacMillan's treatment of this important event. Without sugar-coating Nixon's weaknesses, she went into great detail and included Kissinger's and Chou En Lai's important roles. In fact, she probably wrote more pages relating to these two than on Nixon or Mao.It was enlightening to learn that Kissinger was passing secrets of Soviet security to demonstrate good will, and that he and Nixon did all they could to keep the US State dept out of the event, much to their dismay and anger.You can see the seeds of Nixon's downfall with the demonstrated paranoia towards his own administration, the press and, in fact everyone outside his small circle of trusted aides sown in these years just before Watergate.Still, you must agree with Nixon that he and Kissinger deserved credit for opening this important door that maybe nobody else could have.In so many ways a fatally flawed man, who you cannot admire. Still, despite those inexcusable faults, he accomplished a major change in world history.

  • Lucas
    2019-02-20 13:22

    Any history book that claims to be about a single small span of time of course expends half of the book on context, events years before and after. The time span is a good device that gives the book a focus, and also provides a reason to repeatedly step back from the bigger picture and add details like the type of candy provided by the Chinese hosts to Nixon.Zhou is apparently pronounced very close to 'Joe', as in 'Zhou the premier of the People's Republic of China'. I liked the examination of all the relationships with countries on the borders of China, their alignment with the Soviet Union or China or the United States- Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Japan, and the Koreas are the most prominent. The most humorous part of this book is an anecdote about a group of U.S. reporters on their last day in their hotel in China: after Barbara Walters left her room to check out, her colleagues piled their dirty underwear on her bed. As the group was leaving a room attendant came running after her to give her a laundry bag thinking she had forgotten its contents...

  • Bookmarks Magazine
    2019-02-20 12:23

    Margaret MacMillan follows Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (**** Mar/Apr 2003) with another tale of a world-changing encounter. She draws parallel narratives of how the two world leaders met in a momentous (if stilted) handshake, and she peppers her analysis with fascinating details, such as what led to Mao's 1958 decision regarding the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu and the American commitment to defend Taiwan. MacMillan's use of flashback (the narrative begins with Nixon's trip to Beijing and then moves backward to the months leading up to the flight) confused a few critics, and some wished for more nuanced analyses of Chinese and Soviet politics. Macmillan's portrayal of key characters, including Henry Kissinger and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, stands out. After meeting Mao Zedong, Nixon remarked to him that "history has brought us together." Thirty-five years later, it has brought them to MacMillan's capable hands. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  • Justin Tapp
    2019-03-21 15:33

    the author provides all the necessary background information--mini biographies of all the key players involved, the historical context, a brief history of U.S. involvements in East Asia (namely Korea, Vietnam, and the support of Taiwan), a brief history of Communist China under Mao, stories of Kissinger's secret trips and the diplomatic backchannels over the years that made the trip possible, the details of every part of the week-long trip, the world's reaction, etc.If you're looking for a book that will give you all of the above, you've found it. It's quite readable. The only dry parts are the biographical information about the various government ministry folks from both countries, but even those are sometimes intriguing.I read this book because I wanted to know more about China, and particularly Mao. This book gives excellent insights into what can be known of The Chairman. I enjoyed the author's attention to detail, often quoting from memoirs, collected letters, Nixon's secret tapes, etc. A fascinating look at diplomacy.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-10 18:15

    Very good overview of one of the most important foreign-policy shifts of the 20th century which set the foundation for inarguably the most important bilateral relationship in political and economic terms in the world today. MacMillan is remarkably impartial in discussing the positive and negative characteristics of both sides, and does a good job exploring not only what happened during that groundbreaking week but setting the stage for that week, investigating the foreign-policy dynamics of the time period, the personalities involved on both sides and the preparation that went into setting up the visit through diplomatic back-channels and whatnot. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in the history of the US-China relationship or foreign policy in general. I'm not really much of a China person myself, so I don't really know how basic the information is in the grand scheme of things, but this might be mostly review for a more seasoned China-watched.

  • Douglas Graney
    2019-03-09 12:35

    Very impressive work by Margaret MacMillan. The subtitle is The Week That Changed The World, and while that is true, the week itself, in a literal sense really only amounted to both sides trying to save face over Taiwan and to a lesser extent N. Vietnam. But the meetings, banquets and sight-seeing ultimately led to full diplomatic relations.Chou en lai is the most interesting of the Big 4 (Chou, Mao, Nixon, Kissenger). I found myself thinking "he has some good points" as he pointed out US interference in the world. Of course he was representing Mao, one of the worst villians in history. There are also cultural descriptions of the Chinese approach to negotiations, courtesy, protocol and philosophy that added much to the context of this book. I wonder what Nixon would think if he could have lived to the present day and saw how dependent we are on China and the economic power they have over us?

  • Tom
    2019-03-11 14:27

    Margaret McMillan's first book since Paris 1919, this one on more recent events leading up to and during Nixon's visit to China. I found it an interesting glimpse into an event that I recall. I was left however still wondering how Nixon, a staunch anti-communist in his earlier political career came to the conclusion that he should open relations with China under Mao. The only reason given was that it acted as a counter balance to the Soviets. While strategically plausible, it nevertheless seems like quite a conversion to have undergone. On reflection this kind of grand 'chess game' approach to geopolitics is classic Kissinger. The import of the opening of China becomes even greater now that we see the role that 'Chimerica' has played in the recent economic bubble. It would seem that the 'prosperity' that we have enjoyed in the 80s and 90s was made possible by the events described in this book.

  • Kim Ray
    2019-03-08 12:21

    Superbly written. An easy 5-stars

  • Ian
    2019-02-26 15:25

    I didn't get very far into this book. I started it, was intrigued, then put it down for long periods of time before picking it up again. The way MacMillan writes is very confusing. She inserts tangents in very random places and follows it with other tangents. She took an interesting topic and overwhelmed it with back stories. I did learn things I didn't know about such figures like Mao, Henry Kissinger and Chiang Kai-Shek, but it took away from the main points of her book. She was supposed to write about the week Nixon visited China and instead cluttered it up with historical information about everything that led up to that visit, whether it was vital to the story or not. I'm sure if I had kept reading I would have been more engrossed. She had to have gotten to the point eventually. But I had wasted enough time being stuck on this book, and decided to move on.

  • Finbarr
    2019-02-23 12:20

    A fascinating account of what must have been a thrilling time in history for those involved. It's particularly pertinent in the growing tensions over the South China Sea, China's economy and the pending trade war that would accompany a Donald Trump presidency. Nixon comes over similarly to Clinton: someone more suited to foreign policy than domestic wrangling. Eventually, his same indifference to and succumbing to local pettiness was what brought him down. It's a case of what might have been really: perhaps the countries were not ready for a proper relationship... they were too different at a time when difference was treated with utmost suspicion. This is well-written and entertaining and though it's ten years old, hasn't suffered from the great changes that have befallen both China and America in the intervening decade.

  • Allison
    2019-03-14 12:29

    This was a great in-depth into the history, people and thinking that went into Nixon's famous trip into China during 1972. Most certainly, the week Nixon spent in China changed the course of world history. One could argue whether it was inevitable or not that China would eventually emerge on the world stage, but it's hard to imagine someone like Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter making the first forays. After reading Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power this past summer, I had a lot of the background knowledge into the Nixon Administration's foreign policy decisions, but Macmillan's equal focus on Mao was quite interesting. A great read for anyone looking to better understand the history of the US/China relationship.

  • Ryan Curell
    2019-03-16 11:17

    This starts well and gets to the brunt of the matter: the meeting with Nixon and Mao. Everything's pretty much down hill from there. I took a Chinese politics course in college and much of this book is a solid review of 20th century Sino-US relations; later chapters on the Soviet Union, Japan, and the Pakistan-India conflict are too long and, save the info on the USSR, not terribly relevant to the topic. I like the way MacMillan tells history--anecdote followed by detailed history, forming a kaleidescope of sorts to tell the tale--but it also makes me think outside of its main implications there isn't much of a story to tell. I think this is apparent as several pieces of information are repeated throughout, and thus the book gets very repetitive. It could have been at least 50 pages shorter, maybe a 100--less would have been more in this case.