The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

  • by John Pomfret
  • Narrated by Tom Perkins
  • 30 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Our relationship with China remains one of the most complex and rapidly evolving and is perhaps one of the most important to our nation's future. Here, John Pomfret, the author of the best-selling Chinese Lessons, takes us deep into these two countries' shared history and illuminates in vibrant, stunning detail every major event, relationship, and ongoing development that has affected diplomacy between these two booming, influential nations. We meet early American missionaries and chart their influence in China and follow a group of young Chinese students who enroll in American universities, eager to soak up Western traditions. We witness firsthand major and devastating events like the Boxer Rebellion and the rise of Mao. We examine both nations' involvement in world events such as World War I and II. Pomfret takes the myriad historical milestones of two of the world's most powerful nations and turns them into one fluid, fascinating story, leaving us with a nuanced understanding of where these two nations stand in relation to one another and the rest of the world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Indispensable for understanding the US China relationship

I grew up with the subject of this book as my family history and have pursued my interest in this as a teacher of history. My mother spent significant intervals of her childhood in China between 1912 and 1927. My grandfather began as a medical missionary in Canton in 1900 and, shortly after arriving there, had the task of conveying to his future wife's family that his fiancee's older sister and her husband had been killed in the Boxer Rebellion. By 1922 he was no longer a missionary but was an employee of the Rockefeller Foundation's Peking Union Medical College in Peking.

Having taught history in a number of independent schools where I taught some Chinese history, I can claim academic familiarity in this subject, without being any kind of authority. What I can say is that this book enlarged by understanding of this history significantly and is well worth reading for anyone who would like to have a better understanding of this complicated relationship.
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- D. Keith

Informative, disquieting, captivating

Where does The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

among the best


What other book might you compare The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom to and why?

Thomas Rid, Rise of the Machines: subtle, balanced, engaging history of a subject that is consistently misrepresented in popular culture
Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: new ways to think about China


What does Tom Perkins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Pronunciation of Chinese words that is almost but not quite right


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The chapters about US behavior toward China during WWII were a revelation and painful to listen to for an American


Any additional comments?

I first visited China in 1984 and have returned regularly ever since. I'm in China now listening to this on the campus of a Chinese university that was built by Christian missionaries 100 years ago. Pomfret's analysis of US China relations is a breath of fresh air. By foregrounding the immense cultural baggage that Americans usually bring to their relationship with China, Pomfret is giving Americans some tools they can use if they want to try to have a more authentic experience of China

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- Ysolde

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-29-2016
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company