Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rebecca E. Karl

Rebecca E. Karl's latest book is Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History.

From her Q & A with Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom at The China Beat:

JW: What inspired you to write this book–and to write it in a way that would engage non-specialists as well as be of interest to scholars in Chinese studies?

RK: First, thanks for giving me this opportunity to introduce my new book. Over the years, in my teaching and non-academic life, I have encountered many people – students, family, concerned citizens of various political persuasions – who are baffled and confused about China’s past and its current trajectory. I decided I wanted to write a book for all of those people: the ones who are genuinely interested but perhaps not very knowledgeable about China.

In writing the book, then, it became clear that I needed to explore and explain certain ideological, historical, and political aspects of what made Mao possible in China in the twentieth century, and what Mao himself made possible (or impossible) in the course of his rise to power and rule in China through the tumultuous years of the pre- and post-war periods. To do that properly, I needed to explore the relationship of socialist theory to capitalist global realities; the relationship of Maoism as it emerged to the situation of China; and the relationship between China and the world that was a condition for China’s existence in the world in the twentieth century. No book that I knew of did all of these things to my satisfaction; so I decided to do them by writing this new book.

JW: What was the hardest period to cover in a concise and accessible fashion–and what, if there was one, turned out to be a surprisingly easy period to deal with in this kind of summary manner?

RK: Personally, the worst chapter for me to write was...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue