First view of China


Originally uploaded by dchurbuck.

Made Beijing at 11 pm, being met by a very nice colleague who took off her Friday evening to greet me at the custom’s gate. After a quick ride through the hazy darkness (there have been Gobi sandstorms) I made it to the hotel, logged on, send some mails back to RTP, ate a sleeping pill and just awoke to this, my first look at China.

Sort of takes the romance out of the balloon.

I read too fast — next book: The Gate of Heavenly Peace

Jonathan Spence’s The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution. I’ve been a China tear for the last three months (for obvious reasons), and having taken Spence’s class on Chinese history at Yale in the 70s, I turned to his account of the lives of several revolutionaries, intellectuals, and artists in China from the 1880s to the 1980s. Excellent, excellent book about a very complex period in world and Chinese history.

Spence writes like a novelist, but is probably the greatest living Western Chinese historian. The first person he profiles, Kang Youwei, is amazing.

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