: The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (): Jay Taylor: Books. By Jay Taylor. Belknap. pp. $ Chiang Kai-shek ranks as one of the most despised leaders of the 20th century. Famously derided as. Hadrian said: This new revisionist biography of the Generalissimo draws from new Jay Taylor has revisited the western treatment of Chiang Kai-shek in The.

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The Generalissimo

Sep 13, Andrew rated it really liked it Shelves: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Very well written and a clear read to understand China’s modern day past and present.

Fighting to keep his nation united, first against the raging warlords, then with the invading Japanese, then against the growing armies of Mao, he remained humble in his views and opinions. At the same time, the chances of a successful attack by the North Korean Army against the unprepared and much weaker army of the Republic of South Korea appeared high.

Chiang Kai-Shek also Jiang Jieshi was one of the most polarising Chinese figures of the twentieth century, equally celebrated as the victor over the Japanese and reviled as the man who lost the Mainland to the Communists after defeat in the Chinese Civil War. In his diary, CKS used the Chinese term for “rainy season” many times in discussion of SE Asia and he clearly was familiar with the phenomenon.

The value of these diaries has thus been widely recognised by historians worldwide. According to Taylor, though, Soong apparently did say that CKS did not know what monsoons were, it seems that it was only the Western terminology that he was not familiar with.

Taylor suggests that far from being an incompetent dictator he was actually a shrewd and even noble man, making the best out of a bad hand. He clearly foresaw the futility of US troops fighting in Vietnam but remained implacably anti-Communist and at least in public always in favor of going on the offensive. Except for those written in that were lost due to the civil war, the remainder are intact.


Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China

He looks at both the good and bad without criticism. See all 41 reviews.

As this book argues, the irony of beneralissimo things stand between Chiang’s Taiwan and Mao’s China is that the economic model that Chiang established in Taiwan soon began to serve as a basis for the mainland’s transformation to a market economy not long after Mao’s death in — China’s shift from an unworkable central economy to a capitalistic, heavily geneeralissimo and distributed industrial program began when China opened up its land and resources for Taiwan businesses.

He often worked with people he disagreed with and people he hated, while fighting old friends and allies on the battlefield. It is the first biography to make full use of the Chiang family archive. Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. The most amazing insight of the book is that the prosperous, democratic Taiwan of today is exactly what the “wise men” of the s insisted that Chiang Kai Shek could never deliver and his communists opponents would.

One or two orthographical infelilicites but otherwise a great read and very informative indeed.

The Generalissimo — Jay Taylor | Harvard University Press

America should have done more to help him with the Japanese and defeating Mao. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. The book genfralissimo massive – weighing 1.

Chiang is a fascinating man and the book is objective enough that you can pull away you own opinions of him. In short, highly recommended. In the years of history of China, he was one of the only two southern leaders who have unified China.

Although nominally holding various shared leadership positions within his political party the KMTthe book makes clear that it was often Chiang himself or his wife that determined policy. Taylor gives us a more sympathetic look at the man who was blamed for losing China. It is also not the easiest to follow without some background knowledge of modern Chinese history. This settlement benefited the communists far more than the nationalists.

I felt if they were important enough to include, there should have been more to their appearances in the book; probably many should have been trimmed.


I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. American Historical Association members Generalissimk in via society site. Most users should sign in with their email address. The writing style was lucid and flowed well so it wasn’t difficult to read, just a bit long.

What was missing for me were the threads that connected the historical narrative to the inner life of the subject. Had Chiang surrendered, the 1 million Japanese soldiers in China would have been free to fight elsewhere in Asia or Europe. To be honest, I my opinion of Chiang Kai Shek has changed dramatically – I once viewed him as essentially an incompetent con-artist.

Feb 10, James rated it really liked it Shelves: Chiang is the heir to Dr. Whose fault is it? The book doesn’t drag on historical detail, but focuses on the personalities and dramatic encounters that spanned Chiang Kai-shek’s long life. Meeting with Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka on September 27,at the time of normalization of their relations, after Tanaka expounded in generlaissimo coy and abstract fashion that “by invading China, Japan created a lot of trouble for China,” Mao replied in a way that blended irony with surprising Candor.

I had to learn more about the recent history of Taiwan and it is a work in progress for me. Chiang was quite the character, and Taylor does a marvelous job intricately detailing the Generalissimos’ life and legacy.

This book isn’t the most accessible, and its prose can be flat and lacking in a sense of momentum. There is no doubt, however, that he was a highly capable leader, one of the most clairvoyant and careful in the 20th century. Taylor organized this publication in four Jay Taylor has revisited the western treatment of Chiang Kai-shek in The Generalissimo: This is a grand history of one of the great movers generaliesimo shakers of the modern age.