On China

  • by Henry Kissinger
  • Narrated by Nicholas Hormann
  • 20 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The eminent historian and strategist reflects on how China's past illuminates its 21st-century trajectory, drawing on 40 years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders.
In On China, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to the country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. Drawing on historical records as well as on his conversations with Chinese leaders over the past 40 years, Kissinger examines how China has approached diplomacy, strategy, and negotiation throughout its history and reflects on the consequences for the 21st-century world.
As Kissinger underscores, the unique conditions under which China developed continue to shape its policies and attitudes toward the outside world. For centuries, China rarely encountered other societies of comparable size and sophistication. China was the "Middle Kingdom", treating the peoples on its periphery as vassal states. At the same time, Chinese statesmen - facing threats of invasion from without and the contests of competing factions within - developed a canon of strategic thought that prized the virtues of subtlety, patience, and indirection over feats of martial prowess.
On China examines key episodes in Chinese foreign policy, from the earliest days through the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on the modern era. Kissinger illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such events as the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, the opening of relations with the United States, the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
With a final chapter on China's 21st-century world role, On China provides a sweeping historical perspective on Chinese foreign policy from one of the premier statesmen of the 20th century.

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What the Critics Say

"From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy from ancient times to the fraught present 'strategic trust' with the United States. Former Secretary of State Kissinger brings his considerable scholarly knowledge and professional expertise to this chronicle of the complicated evolution and precarious future of Chinese diplomacy with the West.... Sage words and critical perspective lent by a significant participant in historical events." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Uriah Heep on China

This is a tedious, tiresome, tendentious and fact-bending "history" of China by the undisputed Uriah Heep of American diplomacy. Despite a virtual battalion of research assistants, Uriah comes up with some very strange geographical concepts and errors (example: Annam never was 'the northernmost part of Vietnam' and American soldiers in South Vietnam were not "massing along the Chinese border." But such willful and inept distortions serve the theme of this book. The author wants merely to praise the five great men of the twentieth century: Henry Kissinger, Mao Zedong, Henry Kissinger, Zhou Enlai and Henry Kissinger. There is not a single word -- not one - of criticism in this overlong thesis for Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai or any of their lackeys. Kissinger's slavishness toward the Chinese regime has been for decades an embarrassment to critics of the regime. He is the only diplomat from a major power who came to China on his knees. He was never capable of appreciating the contempt that Zhou and Mao had for him. No doubt this book will very quickly be translated into Chinese and become a best seller in China -- subsidized by the Chinese government if they are as wise as the author insists they are. On China is dedicated by the author to fashion designer Oscar de la Renta in whose home, he tells us, he began writing the book.
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- Nor Cal Reader "LED"

Another History of China

I wrote my MA thesis on China's politics, economics, and history, so I was expecting more of an in depth look at the US China relationship with this book. I was quite surprised and disappointed with this offering. Unfortunately Jonathan Spence's Making of Modern China covers the historical aspects of China exponentially better than Kissinger.
Where I looked for this book to excel and really pay for itself was in the political mindset of China from the opening of Sino-U.S. relations on. This did not begin to take form until the later half of the book and I could have read the NYTs to get the perspective Mr. Kissinger provides. There are a lot of histories on China that are better than this book and Kissinger just does not provide enough meat for me to recommend this volume.
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- Elton "I teach business, economics, and English at a university in Tokyo. I love economics, politics, and philosophy. I hold an MA in Political Science and BA in English Literature."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-17-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio