In the grand narrative of modern Chinese history, 1943 is usually passed over with little notice. Great attention has been paid to critical watersheds in Chinese history—the end of the empire in 1911, the outbreak of full-scale war with Japan in 1937, or the triumph of the Chinese Communist revolution in 1949. What can we learn if we focus attention on a less dramatic year? In 1943, in the middle of World War II, the Allies renounced the unequal treaties, Chiang Kai-shek wrote China’s Destiny and met with Roosevelt and Churchill at Cairo, and Mme Chiang made her memorable trip to the United States. From the northwestern province of Xinjiang to the southern smuggling entrepôt of Guangzhouwan, the stories of calculating politicians, suspected spies, starving peasants, downtrodden intellectuals, recalcitrant preachers, and star-crossed actors come together to illuminate the significance of this year for China as a whole. In thirteen topical chapters, both the achievements and the disappointments of 1943 are explored in an effort to capture a moment in time when China stood at a crossroads but the road ahead lay shrouded in the impenetrable fog of war.
Distributed for Cornell University East Asia Program
Editor: Esherick, Joseph; Combs, Matthew;