Catalogue


Passport to Peking : a very British mission to Mao's China /
Patrick Wright.
imprint
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.
description
xxi, 591 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0199541930 (Cloth), 9780199541935 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.
isbn
0199541930 (Cloth)
9780199541935 (Cloth)
catalogue key
7333307
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-02-01:
Americans were forbidden to visit "Red China" after 1949, but Britishers could soon go. In 1954, former prime minister Clement Attlee found himself sipping tea with Chairman Mao-amazingly, the first sitting or former Western head of state ever to talk with the leader of new China face to face. Attlee's was the first of three British delegations, which included wildly assorted and quarrelsome painters, philosophers, labor leaders, and arch conservatives, that took the then quite arduous journey to Peking long before President Nixon went in 1972. Wright (Inst. of Cultural Analysis, Nottingham Trent Univ., UK; Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War) unfolds a rich, sometimes comic tale of how sympathizers and skeptics alike were tested by Communism in action as well as by Chinese brandy. Wright shows us where they flinched, diverted their eyes, or struggled to understand China's new nationalism and experiment in socialism. -VERDICT Highly recommended as a diverting but solid tale for those interested in China.-Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
What is more amazing is the deftness with which he spins from this a gossamer and entrancing narrative thread.
'A brilliant feat of research . . . The result is a tour de force, erudite, funny, endlessly revealing...'John Keay, TLS'In his astonishing last half-dozen books, he has established himself not only as the champion ironist and caustic critis of that weird historical compount, 'Englishness', but als a social historian of an inimitable kind.'Fred Inglis, The Independent'Acerbic and fair-minded. . . social comedy with a rueful edge'Richard B. Woodward, Wall Street Journal'An exuberantly rich chronicle teeming with personalities, stories, encounters and ideas, filled with the strangeness and wonder of colliding worlds'David Hayes, Books of the Year, Australian Policy Online'Wright unfolds a rich, sometimes comic tale of how sympathizers and skeptics alike were tested by Communism in action as well as by Chinese brandy. [He] shows us where they flinched, diverted their eyes, or struggled to understand China's new nationalism and experiment in socialism. Highly recommended.'Library Journal'A fascinating recreation of a moment in British political and cultural history.'Isabel Hilton, History Today
As ever with Wright's work the sheer density of thought, allusion and fact is staggering.
"Entertaining." -The New Yorker
"Entertaining." -The New Yorker "An exuberantly rich chronicle teeming with personalities, stories, encounters and ideas, filled with the strangeness and wonder of colliding worlds." -David Hayes,Inside Story "Intensely researched and comical. Impressive." -Yorkshire Evening Post
Advance Praise: As ever with Wright's work the sheer density of thought, allusion and fact is staggering - but what is more amazing is the deftness with which he spins from this a gossamer and entrancing narrative thread.
"Entertaining." -The New Yorker "Intensely researched and comical. Impressive." -Yorkshire Evening Post "Wright unfolds a rich, sometimes comic tale of how sympathizers and skeptics alike were tested by Communism in action as well as by Chinese brandy. Wright shows us where they flinched, diverted their eyes, or struggled to understand China's new nationalism and experiment in socialism. Highly recommended." -Library Journal "Acerbic and fair-minded. . . social comedy with a rueful edge." -Richard B. Woodward,The Wall Street Journal "As ever with Wright's work the sheer density of thought, allusion and fact is staggering - but what is more amazing is the deftness with which he spins from this a gossamer and entrancing narrative thread." - Will Self "An impressive and unusual book...that succeeds by presenting a wonderful cast of characters set in a dimly remembered period." -Jonathan Fenby,Literary Review "A reminder that there was a moment, before the sky darkened and the earth opened up, when the People's Republic seemed full of possibility." -Raymond Zhong,The Wall Street Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Washington Post, January 2011
Library Journal, February 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This eclectic book, part comedy, part travelogue, and part cultural history, uncovers the story of the British delegations that were invited to China in 1954 - a full 18 years before President Nixon's more famous 1972 mission.
Long Description
President Nixon's famous 1972 trip has gone down in history as the first great opening between the West and Communist China. However, eighteen years previously, former prime minister Clement Attlee had also been to China to shake Chairman Mao by the hand. In the second half of 1954, scores of European delegations set off for Beijing, in response to Prime Minister Chou En-lai's invitation to 'come and see' the New China and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Communist victory. In this delightfully eclectic book, part comedy, part travelogue, and part cultural history, Patrick Wright uncovers the story of the four British delegations that made this journey. These delegations included an amazing range of people from the political, academic,artistic, and cultural worlds of the day: Clement Attlee and his former Health Minister, Nye Bevan; dapper and self-important philosopher A. J. Ayer; the brilliant young artist-reporter Paul Hogarth; poet and novelist Rex Warner (a former Marxist who had just married a Rothschild); and theinfuriatingly self-obsessed Stanley Spencer who famously lectured Chou En-lai on the merits of his hometown of Cookham, but who emerges as the unlikely hero of the story. Using a host of previously unpublished letters and diaries, Patrick Wright reconstructs their journey via the USSR to the New China, capturing the impressions - both mistaken and genuinely insightful - of the delegates as they ventured behind both the iron and the bamboo curtains. Full of comic detail of the delegates and their interactions, it is also a study of China as it has loomed in the British mind: the primitive orient of early western philosophy, a land of backwardness that was used tocontrast with the progressive dynamism of Victorian Britain, as well as the more recent allure of revolutionary transformation as it appeared in the minds of twentieth century Britons.
Main Description
In he second half of 1954, scores of European delegations set off for Beijing, in response to Prime Minister Chou En-lai's invitation to 'come and see' the New China and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Communist victory. In this delightfully eclectic book, part comedy, part travelogue, and part cultural history, Patrick Wright uncovers the story of the four British delegations that made this journey, which included many of the leading political, academic,artistic, and cultural figures of the day.
Main Description
In 1954, eighteen years before Nixon's momentous visit to China, scores of European delegations set off for Beijing, in response to Prime Minister Chou En-Lai's invitation to "come and see" the New China and to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Communist victory. In this delightfully eclectic book--part comedy, part travelogue, and part cultural history--Patrick Wright tells the story of the remarkable Britons who made this journey, including former Prime Minister Clement Attlee; dapper and self-important philosopher A. J. Ayer; the brilliant young artist-reporter Paul Hogarth; poet and novelist Rex Warner (a former Marxist who had just married a Rothschild); and the infuriatingly self-obsessed Stanley Spencer, who emerges as the unlikely hero of the story. Using a host of previously unpublished letters and diaries, Wright captures the impressions--both mistaken and genuinely insightful--of the delegates as they wandered behind the bamboo curtain. Full of comic detail, this book is also a study of China as it has loomed in the British mind: as both the primitive orient of early western philosophy and the alluring site of revolutionary transformation.
Main Description
"Based on a host of previously unpublished letters and diaries, this richly illustrated book is also a study of China as it has loomed in the Western mind: mysterious, isolated, 'backward,' and now filled with the allure of revolutionary transformation."--Front jacket fla
Table of Contents
List of Platesp. xvii
List of Figuresp. xviii
In the Spirit of Geneva (London to Minsk)
Embarkationp. 3
Holding Out in the Legation Quarterp. 21
Paul Hogarth's Marxist Shudderp. 42
The Battle of British'Friendship'p. 57
The Charms of Anti-Americanismp. 77
Barbara Castle's Bevanite Sighp. 93
Chou En-Lai's Winning Smilep. 100
One Good Elk and Dinner with the Politburo (Moscow)
Flowers for Edith Summerskillp. 121
Just Like Manchester a Hundred Years Agop. 138
The Tragic Thoughts of Chairman Smithp. 156
Stanley Spencer's Pyjama Cord and the Socialist Treep. 173
Anticipating China (Moscow to Ulan Bator)
Ghosts over Siberia (Casson and Pulleyblank)p. 183
A Blue Jacket for Abraham Lincoln (Paul Hogarth)p. 206
How China Came to Cookham (Stanley Spencer)p. 224
The Flight of a Brown Phoenix (Cedric Dover)p. 242
Listening to the Oriole (China)
Clement Attlee's Breakp. 269
Popeyed among the Tibetans: The Undiplomatic Rapture of the Cultural Delegationp. 304
Cadillacs, Coal Mines, and Co-operatives: The Second Labour Delegation Grapples with the Factsp. 337
'Nuts about Pavlov'? Resuming the Scientific Dialoguep. 365
The Artist's Reckoning (China)
Revolution Comes to the Art Schools and Museumsp. 393
Paul Hogarth's Sky Full of Diamondsp. 414
Stanley Spencer's English Takeawayp. 449
Afterword: Holy China?p. 479
Appendix: Membership of Three Delegationsp. 505
Notesp. 507
Photographic Acknowledgementsp. 566
Indexp. 567
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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