S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

BOOK REVIEW: 20th Century China, 3rd Edition

20th century chinaClubb weaves a heavy book loaded with the incredible history of the Chinese government from the Boxer Rebellion to the Death of Mao Tse-tung and a little beyond. I read this tome from cover to cover, including the notes. Conclusion: This is not a reading book. Rather it is a superb reference book that details the inner workings, intrigues and polemics of the players in the Nationalist and Communist governments. The meticulous index engenders a ready find.

Clubb’s writing is a tad academic and is loaded with an advanced vocabulary that sent me to the dictionary many times.

My biggest complaint is the lack of photographs of the myriad personalities, bureaucrats, military officers he discusses. Compounding the problem is that I, an English speaker, had a difficult time remembering and categorizing the wholesale number of foreign names with their function, relationships, and importance. After a hundred pages, the names become a Chinese blur.

Another negative is the appalling lack of maps. The narrative is especially difficult to comprehend when set in perspective without such important graphics.

Nonetheless, 20th Century China is keeper and I’ll place it into my China bookshelf as soon as I finish this review.

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