Before We Go: Vacation Reading Suggestions

China Beat will be taking a holiday break until January 3. Before we move on to 2011, though, here’s a short round-up of pieces from 2010 that you shouldn’t miss:

• We’re still doing a bit of catching up as we recover from the end of the fall academic quarter, so please forgive us for being a bit behind on covering both the recent tensions between North and South Korea and also the controversial release of documents by WikiLeaks. On North Korea, read Evan Osnos, “Lips and Teeth,” and listen to Mary Kay Magistad of PRI’s The World. For a China angle on WikiLeaks, Andrew Leonard at Salon examines “The WikiLeaks China-Google Connection.”

• Evan Osnos also wraps up the “Top Ten China Myths of 2010” at the New Yorker’s News Desk.

• At the London Review of Books blog, Nick Holdstock has an interesting post entitled “Love the motherland” featuring images of several propaganda murals in Turpan, Xinjiang.

The Economist takes a look at how the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 is remembered in China today:

In East Zhangwu Village, close to the railway line between Beijing and the port city of Tianjin, the village doctor is a Boxer fan. Sitting behind his desk in the clinic, he recounts, as if he had seen the action himself, how one sultry June local Boxers tore up the line to stop a trainload of foreign troops from heading to Beijing to break a siege of the capital’s embassy district by pro-Boxer imperial troops. “The foreigners had a couple of interpreters who said to the Boxers, ‘Don’t fight, we’ll give you some money, OK?’ The Boxers replied, ‘We don’t want money. We want the foreigners’ heads’.” He shows off a copy of the scores used by the musicians whose flutes, cymbals, drums and pipes accompanied the Boxers into combat. He and a group of fellow enthusiasts have formed what they call the Boxer Band. It performs at ceremonial send-offs for local army recruits.

• In the New Yorker, Pankaj Mishra considers the “staying power” of Mao and his followers as he reviews three recent books on Mao, which “attest to the difficulty of definitively fixing Mao’s image, a project that amounts to writing a history of China’s present.” And, at the New Left Review, Tariq Ali reviews Rebecca Karl’s Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World.

• Finally, if you find yourself casting about for fresh reading material while China Beat is on break, check out The Browser for recommendations of “writing worth reading.” While not China-specific, the site often features interesting China-related content—right now it’s spotlighting Ian Johnson’s New York Review of Books interview with Yang Jisheng on the Great Famine of 1958-61.

The Browser is also the new home of Five Books, where authors and scholars recommend five books covering a particular topic. We confess we’re partial to this one on “China in the world economy,” given that two of the books mentioned by economist Kent Deng are The Great Divergence (written by China Beat co-founder Ken Pomeranz) and China Transformed (the work of former UC Irvine and current UCLA professor Bin Wong).

We’d like to thank all of our contributors and readers for supporting China Beat in 2010—happy holidays and we’ll see you next year!

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