About Face

 

Book Cover

About Face, by James Mann, is a summary of the high level govenmental interactions between America and China starting with Nixon and his opening of official relations. The time covered is what I think is the most interest period in Chinese history, and Mann presents it in an engaging way. This book is as much an American history book as it is a Chinese one.

One of his most consistent observations about America – China relations is the focus on individual to individual relationships. For much of the fifty years covered in the book he shows how no real bureaucratic system is formed for policy creation between the two countries. And while this leads to interesting insights of the minds of Kissinger, Nixon, Regen, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhou Enlai, it is really the views of more current politicians like Pelosi, Bush, and Clinton that fascinated me. Seeing them working on lower level policy positions is a very interesting contrast to their later well known leadership roles.

This is one of my favorite books and I recommend it everyone, for views of American politicians if not the Chinese.

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