Our winner is Charles Hayford who, in typically fine style, gave us not just answers but a lot of good solid prose to back it up (and added three of his own categories to the mix). Hope you enjoy his answers as much as we did.
1. The Prettiest (photo of China you can find on the web)
Any of the views from outer space: they not only inspire awe but since we can see the “state of nature” from which “China” was made, they remind us of Mark Elvin’s old question “why is China so big?”
The NASA site has hundreds of views, all for free!
2. The Wittiest (title of a China book, article or blog post)
I rather fancy my own efforts, for instance, my study of the influence of radical Hindu music on Mao: “Red Sitar Over China” (which somehow remains unpublished) or “Snow, White, and The Seven … China Revolution Classics” (Asia Media, December 1, 2006). Shameless puffery aside, Jim Hevia’s recent English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism (Duke UP, 2005) neatly captures his thesis.
3. And the Grittiest:
Hands down – well, “China Hands” down – it’s Jack Belden, the “grittiest” of the classic wartime China journalists. Sadly, when China Shakes the World was published in 1949, Americans were obsessing about the “loss of China,” but were not much interested in actual reporting. When it was reissued in the 1960s, people mis-took it for a Maoist view, but in fact Belden had gone out into village China to avoid Mao. Owen Lattimore’s Introduction to the reprint recalled that in the 1930s, he and the others relied on Belden to disappear into the countryside and bring back reports on the “seamier” side, fleas and all.
Richard M. Nixon 1972: “This is a Great Wall and only such a great people could have such a great wall.”
Nancy Pelosi (radio interview c. 1995): “We’ve been putting pressure on China for five years and they still haven’t become a democracy.” (paraphrased from memory) [China Beat: if a reader can track down a link on this quote, we’ll publish your name right here.]
5. Spit-iest? “Great Expectorations: Puke, Spitting, and Face,” Frog in a Well (12/12/08)