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Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination

Robert Bickers

Penguin, 2017

Robert Bickers' major new book is the first to fully describe what has proven to be one of the modern era's most important stories: the long, agonizing process by which the Chinese had—by the end of the 20th century—regained control of their own country. To do so, Out of China uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange, and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world in which—through a myriad of means such as armed threats, technology, and legal chicanery—China was kept subservient, until, gradually, it emerged from Western control.

As Bickers shows, China’s new nationalism is rooted not only in its present power, but in the shameful memories of its former weaknesses, as well. Out of China is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the ways in which history shapes China’s view of the world in the twenty-first century and why it matters so deeply for Beijing’s current rulers.

  • “Robert Bickers’ new book Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination helps explain why: “international norms” were used for a century to justify encroachments on Chinese sovereignty…Bickers’ 400 pages paint a picture of almost universal and continual disingenuousness and obliviousness by Western powers and individuals; it might be deadening if he were not such a talented writer.”

    Peter Gordon

    Editor of Asian Review of Books
  • “Few nuances escape Bickers’ eye as he chronicles the myriad ways that Chinese people have sought to define themselves and their country in a world that imposed definitions upon them, sometimes by force. He shows how China’s connections with foreigners in the 20th century produced far more than just the moments of humiliation frequently invoked today in Beijing.”

    Julian Gerwitz

    Author of ‘Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China’
  • “[Bickers’] thoughtful, engaging, and well-written analysis helps to separate fact from myth when it comes to understanding the nature of Chinese nationalism… Out of China is a panoramic examination of the increasingly powerful articulation of China’s national identity in the twentieth century and the country’s painful encounter with Western imperialism.”

    Rana Mitter

    New York Times Review of Books
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