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On China

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  4,111 Ratings  ·  355 Reviews

For more than twenty years after the Communist Revolution in 1949, China and most of the western world had no diplomats in each others' capitals and no direct way to communicate. Then, in July 1971, Henry Kissinger arrived secretly in Beijing on a mission which quickly led to the reopening of relations between China and the West and changed the course of post-war history.

Kindle Edition, 608 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sternej I've seen this book bashed by some who don't like Kissinger for his political past. Hoever, there's no denying that he is a briiliant man. He deftly…moreI've seen this book bashed by some who don't like Kissinger for his political past. Hoever, there's no denying that he is a briiliant man. He deftly gives an overview of ancient Chinese history and culture, then moves into modern times. Since he was more in charge of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and anyone for at least 35 years, who better to tell that story? Since he has all this inside information and personal observation of the Chinese leaders since Mao, he makes it personal and that keeps it from becomong a dry history book.(less)
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Chan Yee
Oct 18, 2011 Chan Yee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kissinger’s Ignorance about China

China is a complicated large country with a long history and civilization entirely different from Western ones. Chinese top leading group is a black box. Its operation is tightly kept confidential. For an autocracy like China, one cannot understand it without understanding its leaders. No wonder Western China watchers are frustrated in understanding China.

However, as a well-experienced diplomat who helped Nixon achieve rapprochement with China, Kissinger must be
Jul 10, 2011 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, the humorous aspects of the book:

1. Take a look at the cover itself! Kissinger's name seems slightly bigger than the actual title.
2. A disproportionate amount of the photos feature the distinguished author. "Here is the author talking with X," "Here is the author talking with 'Y,' and my favorite, "Here is the author playing ping-pong with one of his aides." Well I guess you are a regular guy after all!

So, Kissinger lives up to his reputation as being somewhat self-important.

With t
Henry Kissinger's reputation remains controversial at best today, but many consider one of his most profound achievements in foreign policy to be the opening of China in the 1970s. Few, past or present, could dare to approach the depth of his expertise in this area.

The first few chapters of the book cover a broad outline of Chinese history up to the early 20th century, and ventures an explanation of the nature of their relations with other nations - primarily as tributary states, as all challeng
Babak Vandad
Mar 10, 2016 Babak Vandad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب از زبان و دیدگاه یک سیاستمدار عالیرتبه و باسابقه نوشته شده و این مهمترین ویژگی کتاب است: در این کتاب درمییابیم که یک دیپلمات چطور حرف میزند، چطور حرفهای دیگران را میشنود و خلاصه اینکه، آنچه که در رسانهها میشنوید از دید یک دیپلمات چه معنی و مفهومی دارد.

کتاب سرگذشت چین معاصر را از جنگ تریاک در قرن نوزده تا زمان ریاست جمهوری باراک اوباما، پوشش میدهد. با این حال، همه حوادث مهم را برنمیرسد؛ برای نمونه، الحاق هنگکنگ به سرزمین اصلی.

کیسینجر از میان همه مسائلی که یک کشور دارد فقط به دیپلماسی آن میپر
Jun 09, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On China records the half century effort of Henry Kissinger and successive American governments to establish normal relations with the government of China. This vigorous and highly readable book lays out in detail every aspect of the diplomacy that brought the once hostile and renegade government of China to join the world economic order.

Kissinger spends the first three chapters in an extensive analysis of the political history of China. Key to understanding China's history is the most fundamen
Oct 13, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I had always known the name Henry Kissinger but wasn't intimately familiar with his work in the State department or what the general view of his legacy was until started doing some research ahead of reading 'On China', with him clearly being a controversial figure for his embodiment of 'realpolitik'. I will also caveat that I haven't studied Chinese history in too much depth so don't have many other perspectives to compare this against.

All that said, this book is incredible. Kissinger's co
Nov 19, 2012 Patrice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not complete this book. I got about 300 pages in.
I absolutely loved the beginning. Kissinger gives a great analysis and description of Chinese history and culture.
He described the Chinese mind-set, something I knew nothing about. He describes the Korean War, briefly and begins to go into great detail about Nixon's (and his) strategy.

Around page 300 he goes into infinite detail about what happened between him, Nixon and Mao. In it's way it was fascinating as he was there and this is a fir
Aug 27, 2012 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, china
It is a bit difficult to begin my review with 'I thought ...' for this aptly recently-released non-fiction published in 2012. Instead, I would think this highly informative book on historical, cultural and political China, one of the large countries in Asia in terms of its size and population, written by one of the great American diplomats in the 20th century should be a must for those interested in this amazingly magnificent country in the Pacific Rim; its history itself has dated back since so ...more
Bob Gustafson
"On China" is authoritative, scholarly and dull.

Kissinger puts us on the Chinese History Interstate Highway beginning more than two millennia ago. We travel in fifth gear from the time of Confucius, the purpose of which is to give us China's position in the world from a Chinese person's point of view, and get off at the beginning of the nineteenth century. We then travel through that century, in stop-and-go traffic, as Great Britain attempts to take China over in somewhat the same fashion as it
Jinsong Zhang
Mar 15, 2014 Jinsong Zhang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I don’t completely agree with the author, I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book about a country where I came from.

I was immensely impressed by the first-hand materials Kissinger possessed in writing this powerful book. Kissinger chooses wisely the starting point where to begin his account. People, even among the Chinese pay little attention to the literal meaning of the Chinese name of the country. Explaining the meaning of the two Chinese characters helps understand the people’s tra
Feb 27, 2012 Jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I should probably say that I didn't finish the last hundred pages or so of this book. To be honest, I got bored. I loved that this book started out with a healthy dose of Chinese history, but I wasn't too keen on Kissinger's analysis of...well, anything. Don't get me wrong, I love the Analects as much as the next girl, but Kissinger's attempts to explain modern China using the game of "wei qi" and a handful of Confucuis' teachings did not have me convinced that Kissinger was doing ...more
Mike Orszag
There are brilliant sections of this book. There is an interpretative history of modern China. There is insight into some of the key personalities. There is history of the relationship between the US and China which Kissinger personally developed and played a key role in over a long period of time.

What is strange though is that for someone who was always very cautious in his views, this is a strangely opinionated book without original opinions.
There is a very clear point of view and it almost re
Mike Michaels
Dec 12, 2015 Mike Michaels rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unethical
Excited to expand my understanding of Chinese history, and America’s current diplomatic relationship with China, I bought a beautiful hardback first edition of On China by Henry Kissinger. Given that Kissinger has decades of diplomatic experience with China I assumed that he would be a great primary source to learn from.

He turned out to be a primary source: a grossly biased primary source. He writes about Mao with a reverence which made me nauseous. The little I knew about China included Mao Zed
Catherine Gentry
Excellent overview of Chinese history and the clash of worldviews as the West first began colonizing and then humiliating the Middle Kingdom. I recognized how China represented the last of the indigeonous cultures that the "Roman machine" which began colonizing other peoples first in the Middle East (as in Israel) and then spreading across Europe to the Americas, the Pacific Island peoples, India and finally Asia. The prevalent world view which allows no other and would destroy any competing ide ...more
Umair Khan
Henry Kissinger is one of those celebrity analysts in the West who are considered an authority on China. Kissinger’s reputation is based on his career as a diplomat turned business consultant.

With a title as generic as “On China”, I wondered what the book would hold for me. Would it be a collection of memoirs? An academic study of ancient Chinese culture and its impact upon the mindset of contemporary Chinese leaders? Perhaps it would provide a historical justification of the paradoxical marriag
Jul 30, 2012 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was Henry Kissinger's take on China. It was okay, meaning it was insightful in parts, useful for some historical nuggets, and quite readable. This is, after all, Henry Kissinger, America's greatest diplomat, writing about a country whose modern relations with America were created by him.

He starts out grandly, giving a rather hilarious description of Lord McCartney's ill-fated expedition to China, and covers the Opium Wars and following century of subjugation fairly well, noting the various
Alex Bowman
Sep 01, 2011 Alex Bowman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book On China by Henry Kissinger to be one that is very intellectual while still having an element of creative process involved. In the book, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National security advisor under the Nixon administration, addresses the history of China and how it got to be here today. After spending many times visiting China while in office, Kissinger had acquired a great knowledge of the history of this country. He then documented his public relations experi ...more
Zohar -
May 03, 2011 Zohar - rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
“On China” by Dr. Henry Kissinger is a non-fiction book in which the famous statesman recounts and advises on the future of Chinese diplomacy with the west.

Dr. Henry Kissinger writes at length about the country he has known for decades. Recounting Chinese history and culture, Kissinger examines how China sees itself and the outside world.

Dr. Kissinger examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy, from hundreds of years ago to current events with emphasis on the rise of Mao Zedong.

One of the t
For those familiar with some of Kissinger's other work on diplomatic history, On China is essentially applies the approach of Diplomacy to the history of China's relationship with the outside world and particularly with the United States, identifying recurring themes and making connections between different events to uncover underlying principles. On China begins with a whirlwind history of China's experience in international affairs, from the classical "Middle Kingdom" period, through China's " ...more
Lilian Kong
Nov 05, 2016 Lilian Kong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look into diplomatic relations between the China and the United States. At times, there was a bit too much information to absorb and the language got dry, but I loved the nuance Kissinger gave to China-US Relations.
Chapters on Nixon-Mao relations (including real interview transcripts!) and Tiananmen Square Incident (the issue of morality and human rights) were my favorite. However, I think Kissinger really nailed the first two chapters, where he outlined China's "Middle Kingdom" m
Robert Morris
Kissinger's unique perspective makes for a fascinating book, but the most interesting bit is the 20 page afterword for the paperback edition. Not the afterword itself, but the choice to include it. The hard-cover version of the book ended with a heart-warming plea for co-existence. Kissinger wrote the book in part in an attempt to outline the very different ways that the US and China see the world and foreign relations. The initial ending of the book opens with a comparison of the rise of German ...more
Sukanta Hazra
May 04, 2016 Sukanta Hazra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Excellent book. Beyond the scare mongering headlines of a resurgent China and what it means to the rest of the world. This book looks into the historical experience of China and its sense of destiny and rightful place in the world. How by looking through the lens of western ideology and models we miss the perspective that the Chinese population and the government has on the rest of the world and most importantly on their national interests. Unfortunately most of us are so occupied with the event ...more
An interesting look at the political history (not social) of China. Kissinger's style is fluid and easily readable and accessible, which was a bit unexpected. I thought that his discussions on pre-modern China were much more fascinating, perhaps because I knew less of that information. I had kind of hoped that the narrative would be more encompassing that looking at Sino-American relations of the 20th century, but then again this is probably what Kissinger is best to discuss.

Note that most of hi
Jul 02, 2014 Ejieok23 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i am chinese and we are quite famaliar with Mr.Kissinger who is considered to be our old friend. IN this book, i can learn a lot of history and break-ice adventure of China and USA. And I quite agree of what H.K describe about China and Confucius:Rarely did Chinese statesmen risk the outcome of a conflict on a single all-or-nothing clash; elaborate multiyear maneuvers were closer to their style. Where the Western tradition prized the decisive clash of forces emphasizing feats of heroism, the Chi ...more
Jul 02, 2013 Kait rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great. Intelligent, insightful and so readable. It's a wonderful primer of an American's thoughtful understanding of where China has been and where it is going based on his extraordinarily advantaged point of view on the subject. It is also an interesting primer on diplomacy - both in its discussion of the topic and also the diplomatic way the book is written.
Jul 09, 2016 Jordan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably a must read for anyone at the state department, but for us civilians I doubt we need to understand the subtleties of China's Wei-Chi encirclement strategy for global politics.
Rico Wang poh peng
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Stephanie Liew
Mar 21, 2017 Stephanie Liew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very insightful book on the progress of Sino-American relations and how the different administrations faced challenges from the changing political landscape due to volatile relations. Henry Kissinger gave valuable point of views from his term as Secretary of State during the important pioneering of the détente policy, showing readers the strategic styles of the Soviet Union and China, and how America faced many constraints and contradictions when it came to addressing those styles. A must read ...more
May 07, 2017 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great historical and cultural perspective of why China behaves the way it does and good stories of how different leaders coped with each generations challenges.
Jonathon Baugh
May 22, 2017 Jonathon Baugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true master class on China and Sino-American relations of the late 20th century.
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Henry Alfred Kissinger (born Heinz Alfred Kissinger) is a German-born American bureaucrat, diplomat, and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the Richard Nixon administration. Kissinger emerged unscathed from the Watergate scandal, and maintained his powerful position when Gerald Ford became President.

A proponent of
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“In his essay, ‘Perpetual Peace,’ the philosopher, Immanuel Kant, argued that perpetual peace would eventually come to the world in one of two ways, by human insight or by conflicts and catastrophes of a magnitude that left humanity no other choice. We are at such a juncture.” 13 likes
“It is one of history's ironies that Communism, advertised as a classless society, tended to breed a privileged class of feudal proportions.” 12 likes
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