Education About Asia: Online Archives

Through Chinese Eyes: Tradition, Revolution, and Transformation, 3rd Edition

Download PDF

BY EDWARD VERNOFF AND PETER J. SEYBOLT
NEW YORK: THE APEX PRESS, 2007
381 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0-938960-51-5, PAPERBACK

Reviewed by Charles Hayford

The first edition of this book, Peter Seybolt’s Through Chinese Eyes (Praeger, 1974; 2 vols) was conceived just after Nixon went to Peking. This was the period of bipolar disorder in American popular attitudes toward China. Emotions swung from Cold War opposition to romantic obsession, from paranoia to pandas. Seybolt realized that neither extreme was fair or sufficient, and crafted a selection of readings to show both the idealism, which he saw in Mao’s model, and the reality that was implemented by human beings. In accordance with the plan of Leon E. Clark, who originated the “Eyes” series, almost all of the pieces were written by Chinese authors, and the greatest number were originally published in the People’s Republic. The aim was to present easily comprehensible Chinese personal and official viewpoints, not monographic analysis of specialized topics (although Seybolt as a Harvard PhD knew this scholarly literature). The original book went through several revisions and helped many students (and I am sure a good number of adults) to get a “feel” for how people in China wrote about their history and experience.