Andrew Nathan

Andrew Nathan is the Class of 1919 Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. He co-edited The Tiananmen Papers and is the author, with Bruce Gilley, of China’s New Rulers.

Zhao’s Version: Zhao Ziyang

Andrew Nathan, 17 December 2009

In the afternoon of 23 April 1989, China’s highest-ranking official, the Party’s general secretary Zhao Ziyang, left from Beijing railway station for an official visit to North Korea. Zhao had considered cancelling the trip because of the student demonstrations that had broken out in Beijing eight days earlier, but decided it wasn’t necessary. The crisis seemed to have...

Jade and Plastic: How bad was Mao?

Andrew Nathan, 17 November 2005

Mao Zedong’s long, wicked life has generated some lengthy biographies in English. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s is the longest, having overtaken Philip Short’s Mao (1999) and Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman Mao (1995). It represents an extraordinary research effort. The authors have been working on the project since at least 1986, to judge by the date of the earliest interview cited, which – and this is typical of the access they gained to many highly-placed and interesting people – was with Milovan Djilas. They have visited remote battle sites of the Long March, Mao’s cave in Yan’an, ‘over two dozen’ of Mao’s secret private villas around the country, the Russian presidential and foreign ministry archives, and other archives in Albania, Bulgaria, London and Washington DC. They even tried – and failed – to get access to the Chinese war memorial in Pyongyang.

Frederic Wakeman has long been fascinated with the police and criminals of pre-Communist Shanghai, who were as often each other’s allies as opponents. His first book on the subject, Policing Shanghai 1927-37 (1995), described the self-subverting involvement of the new Kuomintang government’s municipal police bureau in both the opium trade and the civil war against the Communists.

Letter

A Question of Sources

17 November 2005

Andrew Nathan writes: Most of Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s complaints fall into two overlapping categories: I did not check enough sources; I misinterpreted what they or their sources said.Chang and Halliday’s method of citation makes it necessary for the reader to check multiple sources in order to track down the basis for any single assertion. There were many passages in their book which...

I could hardly bring myself to read this book. When I finished it, I was more puzzled than ever about what I had witnessed before and at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. I was...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences