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Preview — Nixon and Mao by Margaret MacMillan
Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World
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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' ...more
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 Chines ...more
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 coun ...more
If you're looking for a book ...more
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 chang ...more
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 al ...more
Beyond the diplomatic procedural account of "the week that changed the world," several chapters are devoted to the personal background of th ...more
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 ...more
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 a ...more
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...more
The author should have known this.
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 interf ...more
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 kal ...more
MacMillan's note that Nixon was bored with US domestic politics gave me pause ...more
My main problem with the book is that the conclusion is really weak. It doesn't go deep into results of china/usa deal, glosses over Kissinger's corporate role afterwards, and doesn't explore what could've been if the deal did not happen.
Most interesting part of the conclusion said the China/USA deal was major because until the deal China was treated as a ...more
"'Those writings of mine aren't anything,' Mao said. 'There is nothing instructive in what I wrote.'" (71)
"'He speaks forthrightly -- no beating around the bush, not like the leftists, who say one thing an mean another. ... He is much better than those people who talk about high moral principles while engaging in sinister intrigues. ... There is a man who knows what he stands for, as well as what he wants, and has ...more
The structure of the book is somewhat choppy as it constantly goes from an event (i.e., Nixon getting off the plane in Beijing) and then dives into the biography of a major player or the description of a significant prior event. As a result, it is difficult to keep track of what actually happened during th ...more