General Stilwell knew very well that the situation between the United States government and China was a weak point for Chiang, and used it as an advantage. These conflicts caused Chiang Kai-shek to demand the removal of General Stillwell from his position, and also led the US government to form a negative impression of Chiang. In contrast to other Western scholarly views that avoid the sensitive topic of discrimination, Taylor adds a new factor to the reasoning of why Chiang Kai-shek and the United States government maintained a rocky relationship after World War II. All in all, however, this book represents a major contribution to our understanding of one of the most important figures of modern Chinese history.
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French Centre for Research on Contemporary China. This book is noteworthy for the way in which Taylor portrays Chiang Kai-shek as a faithful disciple of Sun Yat-sen, who dedicated his life to the transformation of China into a modernised nation. For Taylor, Chiang spent his whole life attempting to achieve the same goal, i. This involved three different aspects, namely the unification of China, the establishment of a strong central government, and the elevation of the general populace to one that is disciplined and willing to sacrifice everything for the defence of the nation.
The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern China
Taylor believes that throughout these different stages, Chiang never wavered from his lifelong aspirations, but took different approaches in different situations to fulfil his goals. China Perspectives. Hong Kong - Seminar and conferences. Taipei - Seminar and conferences.
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Indeed, Taiwan in was a menacing place for journalists, critics, and opposition figures. They had to watch what they said or risk prison. I sympathized with opposition writers and politicians and was not inclined to look kindly on Chiang Kai-shek. But Taylor makes clear that the elder Chiang was encouraging changes made by his son.
- The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (Belknap Press).
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On the battlefield, against both the Japanese and the Communists, Chiang displayed courage, fought hopeless defensive battles against superior forces, and made a number of last-minute escapes from besieged cities. Chiang secured military aid from Stalin in the early years of the war against Japan. Taylor documents repeated failures by the United States to live up to its commitments to Chiang.
Following Truman administration promises of aid, the first military supplies did not begin to arrive until November , too late to play a role in the decisive battle for Manchuria. Taylor shows how Chiang, while on Taiwan, used threats to invade the mainland in order to maintain morale and gain leverage with his American allies.
The generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China
By stirring uncertainty over his intentions, he gained concessions and commitments. In reality, he did not consider recovering the mainland as a viable option, at least not in his lifetime. Taylor also reveals that Chiang came to loathe Richard Nixon as the American president made his opening to Beijing.
But Chiang kept his thoughts mostly to himself. He draws on new materials, but his greatest strength is the fairness of his approach.
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