Providing historical insights essential to the understanding of contemporary China, this text presents a nation's story of trauma and growth during the early twentieth century. It explains how China's defeat by Japan in 1895 prompted an explosion of radical reform proposals and the beginning of elite Chinese disillusionment with the Qing government. The book explores how this event also prompted five decades of efforts to strengthen the state and the nation, democratize the political system, and build a fairer and more unified society.
Peter Zarrow weaves narrative together with thematic chapters that pause to address in-depth themes central to China's transformation. While the book proceeds chronologically, the chapters in each part examine particular aspects of these decades in a more focused way, borrowing from methodologies of the social sciences, cultural studies, and empirical historicism. Essential reading for both students and instructors alike, it draws a picture of the personalities, ideas and processes by which a modern state was created out of the violence and trauma of these decades.