Even at the high noon of Europe's empire-building China nonetheless kept its sovereignty. Robert Bickers' major new book is the first to describe fully what has proved to be one of the modern era's most important stories: the long, often agonizing process by which the Chinese had by the end of the 20th century regained control of their own country. Out of China uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world. Today Chinese nationalism stays firmly rooted in memories of its degraded past - the quest for self-sufficiency, the determination to assert China's standing in the world, to stake its outstanding territorial claims, and never to be vulnerable to renewed attack. History matters deeply to Beijing's current rulers - and Out of China explains why.
It is a pleasure to read the fruits of his mature scholarship as he revisits familiar ground, puncturing myths and putting British and Chinese views into reciprocal perspective -- Michael Sheridan * The Sunday Times * Robert Bickers is a pre-eminent chronicler of China... a great story told with splashes of colour and sharp wit -- Jonathan Fenby * Literary Review * This detailed account valuably reconstructs the west's recent cultural malfeasance in China, and also challenges the simple, propaganda narrative that the CCP tells about its deliverance of China from Colonial aggressors -- Julia Lovell * Prospect *
Robert Bickers is the author of the highly-acclaimed Empire Made Me and The Scramble for China. He has written extensively on Chinese history and is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol.