Thursday, December 25, 2008

Book Review (#23 of 2008)

Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan.

This was one of my $1 garage sale audiobook purchases, it has taken me a long time to get through all 13 CDs because my commute to work is only about 7 minutes. You might ask how a 1-week event fills 19 chapters and 13 CDS. It's because 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.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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