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‘Out of China:

How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination’

Robert Bickers

Allen Lane

‘Out of China’ uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world: the corrupt, lurid modernity of pre-war Shanghai, the often tiny patches of ‘extra-territorial’ land controlled by European powers, the entrepôts of Hong Kong and Macao, and the myriad means, through armed threats, technology and legal chicanery, by which China was kept subservient until, gradually, it emerged from Western control.  That struggle continued until the end of the twentieth century, through the Cold War and its aftermath, and shaped both Chiang Kai-shek’s rule in Taiwan and the China of Mao Zedong and his successors.

Today Chinese nationalism stays firmly rooted in memories of its degraded past – the quest for self-sufficiency, the determination to assert China’s standing in the world, to stake its outstanding territorial claims, and never to be vulnerable to renewed attack. History matters deeply to Beijing’s current rulers – and ‘Out of China’ explains why.

2018

Shortlist
  • An ambitious book delivered in an animated, accessible style. Based on an impressive sweep of archival material, with brilliant vignettes on subjects such as pre-war Shanghai, Bickers demonstrates a clarity and depth of knowledge which helps to frame modern China.

Wolfson History Prize judges