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... The people are exulting’ – narod likuyet. The phrase was spoken with impassive distance – perhaps even irony – by a heavily-armed commando in the White House, as we looked down at the first, still rather scattered and tentative outbursts of revelry among the crowds camped in the night below round the Russian Parliament. There was still no hard news of what had happened in the Crimea, but by the evening of 21 August the rumour outside was already of victory ...
... In the spring of 1930, 16 years into his service in the Chinese Maritime Customs, my father, James Anderson, was posted to Hong Kong. He remained there two years, technically posted to Kowloon, but living on the Peak. He disliked the place. The setting might be ‘carelessly beautiful’, but the society was dreary and the town repellent. ‘It is curious how ...

Diary

Perry Anderson: On E.P. Thompson, 21 October 1993

... recently reshown. While it was being shot, there was talk of mutual acquaintances. ‘What’s Perry up to these days?’ he enquired. Tariq mentioned something I’d written on conservatism in this paper. ‘Yes, I know,’ Edward replied. ‘Oakeshott was a scoundrel. Tell him to stiffen his ...

A Belated Encounter

Perry Anderson: My father’s career in the Chinese Customs Service, 30 July 1998

... father. He had punished the wrong son. The institution in which the young James Carew O’Gorman Anderson took up his post in 1914 had been in existence for nearly fifty years. By then it had no parallel anywhere in the world. Its origins lay in the crisis of the Ch’ing Empire in the mid-19th century, when the Taiping Rebellion gave a Western ...

Casuistries of Peace and War

Perry Anderson: The assumptions the Bush Administration and its critics share, 6 March 2003

... The prospect of a second war on Iraq raises a large number of questions, analytic and political. What are the intentions behind the impending campaign? What are likely to be the consequences? What does the drive to war tell us about the long-term dynamics of American global power? These issues will remain on the table for some time to come, outliving any assault this spring ...

Diary

Perry Anderson: Forget about Paris, 23 January 2014

... France is fabled as the land of bureaucratic centralisation, the epitome of administrative reason, where once a year every adolescent takes the same exam on the same day across the country. The image is not just a foreign legend. It was Tocqueville who first supplied it, as the brand-mark of French Absolutism and the Revolution that followed it. In modern times, its element of truth lies in the exceptional position of Paris as political and intellectual centre of the nation, a position occupied by no other city in a European society of comparable size ...

Sinomania

Perry Anderson, 28 January 2010

When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World 
by Martin Jacques.
Allen Lane, 550 pp., £30, June 2009, 978 0 7139 9254 0
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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State 
by Yasheng Huang.
Cambridge, 348 pp., £15.99, November 2008, 978 0 521 89810 2
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Against the Law: Labour Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt 
by Ching Kwan Lee.
California, 325 pp., £15.95, June 2007, 978 0 520 25097 0
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... These days Orientalism has a bad name. Edward Said depicted it as a deadly mixture of fantasy and hostility brewed in the West about societies and cultures of the East. He based his portrait on Anglo-French writing about the Near East, where Islam and Christendom battled with each other for centuries before the region fell to Western imperialism in modern times ...

Diary

Perry Anderson: In Seoul, 17 October 1996

... Stereotypes of the Far East, dominated by images of China and Japan, leave Korea in a vaguer limbo, of acronyms or bestiaries: NICs or Little Tigers. But if the Western traveller does arrive with any idées reçues, they are liable to be soon dispelled. Seoul is now the third largest city in the world, as a municipal unit – bigger than Tokyo or Beijing ...

Sino-Americana

Perry Anderson, 9 February 2012

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China 
by Ezra Vogel.
Harvard, 876 pp., £29.95, September 2011, 978 0 674 05544 5
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On China 
by Henry Kissinger.
Allen Lane, 586 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 1 84614 346 5
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The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China 
by Jay Taylor.
Harvard, 736 pp., £14.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 06049 4
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... Books about China, popular and scholarly, continue to pour off the presses. In this ever expanding literature, there is a subdivision that could be entitled ‘Under Western Eyes’. The larger part of it consists of works that appear to be about China, or some figure or topic from China, but whose real frame of reference, determining the optic, is the United States ...

Our Man

Perry Anderson: The Inglorious Career of Kofi Annan, 10 May 2007

The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power 
by James Traub.
Bloomsbury, 442 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 7475 8087 1
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Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War 
by Stanley Meisler.
Wiley, 384 pp., £19.99, January 2007, 978 0 471 78744 0
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... Of all postwar institutions in the public eye, the United Nations has probably yielded the poorest literature. With the exception of two lucid studies of its foundation, Robert Hildebrand’s Dumbarton Oaks (1990) and Stephen Schlesinger’s Act of Creation (2003), each the work of a serious diplomatic historian, little or nothing of analytic interest exists about the organisation, which has proved an intellectual sink-hole, down which swirl the drearily self-serving memoirs of its one-time functionaries and mind-numbing pieties from assorted well-wishers in the universities ...

Stand-Off in Taiwan

Perry Anderson: Greens v. Blues in the South China Sea, 3 June 2004

... be understood historically? In an address given in Taipei a couple of years ago, Benedict Anderson suggested that it is best seen as a contemporary version of the originating form of modern nationalism: namely, the separation of overseas settler communities from an imperial homeland, such as gave birth to the United States in the 18th century, and to ...

The Cardoso Legacy

Perry Anderson: Lula’s Inheritance, 12 December 2002

... For two decades – more or less since the Falklands War, and the end of the military dictatorships that had become an international byword for counter-revolutionary ferocity – South America has been largely forgotten by world politics. Recycled democratisation, debt and dependency offered few conflicts and yielded no consequences to compare with dramas in Eastern Europe or Russia, the Middle or Far East, even domestic convulsions in North America ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... Within the huge multiverse of prose fiction the historical novel has, almost by definition, been the most consistently political. It is no surprise that it should have occasioned what is still probably the best-known of all works of Marxist literary theory, Lukács’s The Historical Novel, written in Russian exile in the 1930s. Any reflection on the strange career of this form has to begin there, however far it may then wander from him ...

On Sebastiano Timpanaro

Perry Anderson, 10 May 2001

... Philology has a bad name as a discipline encouraging sterile pedantry. Today, few could cite a contemporary practitioner. But the discipline had at least one remarkable after-life, contradicting every preconception, in the strange career of Sebastiano Timpanaro, the Italian scholar and thinker who died in November last year, one of the purest and most original minds of the second half of the century ...

The Age of EJH

Perry Anderson: Eric Hobsbawm’s Memoirs, 3 October 2002

Interesting Times: A 20th-Century Life 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
Allen Lane, 448 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 7139 9581 5
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... What apter practitioners of autobiography than historians? Trained to examine the past with an impartial eye, alert to oddities of context and artifices of narrative, they would appear to be the ideal candidates for the difficult task of the self-description of a life. Yet strangely it is not they but philosophers who have excelled at the genre – indeed all but invented it ...

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