The greatness of Chiang Kai Shek

Rehabilitating one of the world’s most reviled tyrants. It’s no small task but the author’s heart is definitely in it. It’s a fascinating book review, whether you agree with it or not. Loved the last sentence:

Perhaps Chiang has emerged victorious after all. For surely today’s China resembles his vision more closely than it does Mao’s.

It’s especially interesting to read this review now, as CCTV seems practically on the verge of announcing that the long-lost baby is about to return to its mother’s arms. Definitely an interesting time to be watching Chinese media.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 16 Comments

Rehabilitating reviled tyrants is a time-honored practice in China, just like in any other country with a history of more than 50 years, including the United Stated (compare, for example, Lincoln’s biography with the way in which he is currently portrayed and perceived).

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a short note about Chiang and his contemporaries on my blog, pointing out the relatively well-to-do background of China’s revolutionaries.

April 26, 2009 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

True enough, though this book isn’t from China, but from an American who was with the State Department, for whatever that’s worth. After visiting the 228 museum in Taibei and reading Fenby’s book, it’s going to take a lot to rehabilitate CKS, at least for me. I don’t put him in quite the same category as the golden four or five (Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Mao) but I doubt I’ll ever be much of a fan.

April 26, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

Chiang Kai Shek would be comfortable wit a China as it is today, Mao would be going back to Yan’an…

April 26, 2009 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

“Chiang Kai Shek would be comfortable wit a China as it is today, Mao would be going back to Yan’an…”

What about Jackie Chan?

April 26, 2009 @ 10:50 pm | Comment

[...] da humanidade), pode não ter sido tão bobo e sim bem racional. Esta é a leitura que emerge disto. Ver também [...]

April 26, 2009 @ 10:51 pm | Pingback

[...] da humanidade), pode não ter sido tão bobo e sim bem racional. Esta é a leitura que emerge disto. Ver também [...]

April 26, 2009 @ 10:56 pm | Pingback

Yeah, I have put this on my “must buy” list.

April 27, 2009 @ 6:57 am | Comment

Chiang is probably one of the most incompetent leaders in Chinese history. But China is so big that even he had many fans now. Regarding the book review on WP, a little bit pethatic.

April 27, 2009 @ 9:36 pm | Comment

Instead of listening to the China lobby and T.V. Soong, FDR SHOULD have listened to OSS and Stilwell. Opportunities lost.

April 28, 2009 @ 4:55 am | Comment

It will be interesting to see the response from the ivory tower and those standing outside the tower compared to the response to Mao: The Unknown Story.

maybe not all that interesting since there is no cult of chairman peanut in western academia and this book appears trying to reverse a negative view where as the other was painting a negative view of a hero.

April 28, 2009 @ 5:42 am | Comment

Of course the author’s heart is in it. LOL. It was funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation — it could hardly be other than a whitewash cum puff piece. I have heard that people attempted to bring things to Taylor’s attention, but he blew them off. Also that he worked through assistants and his Chinese is poor. His first book on Chiang Ching-kuo was also a whitewash as well. A sad waste of time and effort.

April 28, 2009 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

Michael, that makes sense. I found it rather surreal.

April 28, 2009 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

mao is the 1st emperor of this “dynasty”, chiang is the last emperor of last “dynasty”, this is the difference of greatness beween these two, the magnitude of this difference is as big as between any first and last emperors in chinese history, if you know any.

April 30, 2009 @ 8:07 am | Comment

[...] the subject, the book has inspired a fair amount of controversy.  (See the comments thread to this post on TPD by way of example.)  Part of the controversy has to do with the involvement of the Soong family in [...]

May 2, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Pingback

Who won ? Mao of course.

It all depends on what is victory. To both Chinese Nationalists and Communists, having power and authority is the only measurement of victory. Chiang lost. The CCP is still in power. That’s all that counts. People’s livelihood, the economy, ideology, etc. are all for show. If you can blast any opposition away at will is victory.

May 2, 2009 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Jackie Chan is extremely happy now. He can make money in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and the US. That’s happiness with Jackie characteristics.

May 2, 2009 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

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