The best books on Chiang Kai-shek 📚

Browse the best books on Chiang Kai-shek as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Accidental State: Chiang Kai-Shek, the United States, and the Making of Taiwan

Accidental State: Chiang Kai-Shek, the United States, and the Making of Taiwan

By Hsiao-ting Lin

Why this book?

How did Taiwan become the country it is today, how did it become the Republic of China? Hsiao-ting Lin, a leading Taiwanese historian and an archivist at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, convincingly argues that the Nationalist state in Taiwan under Chiang Kai-shek came about in large part from happenstance. The book draws on both English- and Chinese-language archival materials, including newly released official files and personal papers to explain what happened to Taiwan in the crucial years following World War II; it also examines what didn’t happen but might have, such as the island being placed under temporary American trusteeship. Accidental…

From the list:

The best books on Taiwan’s history

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Book cover of A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949

A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949

By Kevin Peraino

Why this book?

President Truman sends George Marshall to China in December 1945 on a special mission to unify the Communists and Nationalists and create a non-Communist China. Marshall returns to the US in early 1947. The mission has failed. Had he been truly neutral as a broker, could the mission have succeeded?

From the list:

The best books on modern Asia

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Book cover of China's Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism

China's Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism

By Rana Mitter

Why this book?

I am disturbed by what is happening in Hong Kong and Xinjiang but it’s important to take a long and balanced view if we want to influence China. Chinese dynasties harbour long memories including the humiliation of the Opium Wars and the sacking of the Imperial Summer Palace by colonial powers and the atrocities committed by Japan in WW2 in China. If we start by empathising with this shared but forgotten history of China in WW2, maybe we can help swing the pendulum to one that respects the diversity that is needed in both East and West.

From the list:

The best books to understand the heart and soul of China

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Book cover of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945

Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945

By Rana Mitter

Why this book?

For many years, American views of the China’s role in World War II were strongly influenced by Barbara Tuchman’s best-selling, Stilwell and the American Experience in China published in 1971. Tuchman painted China’s war effort as brave but costly and ineffective thanks to the incompetence and corruption of Chiang Kai Shek. Portrayed as a kind of Chinese George Washington in the U.S. media, Tuchman saw Chiang as being in fact, far less interested in defeating the Japanese than in ensuring that his regime survived the war in a position to vanquish its domestic rivals, especially Mao Zedong’s Communists 

In contrast,…

From the list:

The best books to understand the Asia Pacific War from 1937-1945

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Book cover of Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze

Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze

By Peter Harmsen

Why this book?

This was a major battle that happened in 1937, right before the Rape of Nanking. After the fall of Shanghai, the Japanese army would march toward, Nanking (Nanjing), the capital of China then. Although it was front page news throughout much of the world then, few people other than historians know it today. It is no hyperbole to call the battle Stalingrad on the Yangtze. The book reads like an engrossing historical novel.

From the list:

The best books about the Pacific Theater in WW2

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Book cover of Into the Teeth of the Tiger

Into the Teeth of the Tiger

By Donald S. Lopez

Why this book?

When I met Don Lopez in the late 1970s while he was the deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, I was interviewing him for a magazine article about his exploits as a fighter ace in China during World War II. The intelligence, graciousness and sense of humor I noted that day come through loud and clear in this memoir published in 1997. In contrast to the rest of the books I’m highlighting here, Lopez provides a vivid, first-hand account of what it was like to actually do the fighting in the skies over China, 1943-45. A…

From the list:

The best books on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

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