Jeffrey WasserstromApr 4, 2016
China through imperfect analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo
Jeffrey Wasserstrom's wonderful new book in the "China Specials" series at Penguin opens with two main premises. First, it is more important than ever to have "illuminating lenses through which to view the People's Republic of China," especially ones that help us make sense of the ways that the PRC has changed since 2008 in the wake of the Olympics, unrest from Tibet to Xinjiang to Hong Kong, the Sichuan earthquake, and more. Second, unexpected juxtapositions can help us understand these changes. Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (e-Penguin, 2016) is small, beautifully written book that does just that. It is packed with the kinds of insights that come from surprising and unusual combinations and comparisons between Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and China's policies toward Tibet and Xinjiang, George W. Bush and Hu Jintao, Beijing and Berlin, Orwell and Huxley, today's China and Russia, Yu Hua and Mark Twain, Xi Jinping and Pope Francis, and more. Check out a copy, explore the marvelous Penguin series of these short books on China, and consider assigning it in a course!