The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

America and China, 1776 to the Present

by John Pomfret

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

America and China, 1776 to the Present

by John Pomfret

A remarkable history of the two-centuries-old relationship between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the present day

From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap Chinese tea, to the US warships facing off against China’s growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world.

Praise for The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom

“John Pomfret has given us the most encompassing, vivid, and fair-minded account of the world’s most important diplomatic relationship, with a warning on the risk of getting it wrong and a belief in the ability to get it right. A triumph of writing, research, and, above all, judgment.”

—Evan Osnos, National Book Award-winning author of Age of Ambition

“A tour de force. Beautifully written, sweeping in scope, learned, lively, and filled with fascinating stories, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is a timely and important book written by one of the most brilliant and insightful China experts of our day.”

—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America

“If you are going to read one book on US-China relations, make it John Pomfret’s The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom. Superbly researched and historically grounded, this book soars on its rich narrative filled with fascinating vignettes. No one is more equipped than Pomfret by intellect, by experience, and by passion to attempt such an ambitious work – and he has skillfully delivered a masterpiece.”

—Karl W. Eikenberry, Ambassador and Lieutenant General, United States Army, Retired

“This is the best single book on the two-century-old history of Sino-American relations. Pomfret tells this colorful story through intriguing tales of individuals—Americans, Chinese, and Chinese-Americans. At the same time, he ably explains the transformations, tensions, and tragedies that have defined governmental ties. Pomfret has researched with care and weighed various interpretations with a keen eye and deft touch.”

—Robert B. Zoellick, Former President of the World Bank, US Trade Representative, and US Deputy Secretary of State

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