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About Face

A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton


James H. Mann (View Bio)
Hardcover: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998; Paperback: Vintage, 2000.

About Face
Los Angeles Times Best Seller
First Prize at the Mainchi Shimbun Awards (best book about Asia of 1999)
Winner of the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award

"James Mann is today widely viewed as the leading China hand in the Washington press corps. Now he has tightened his hold on that reputation with ABOUT FACE, a simultaneously absorbing and troubling account of U.S.-China relations.... [A] colorful and detailed narrative, studded with dozens of vivid anecdotes.... Beneath Mann's smooth-flowing narrative lies an enormous amount of research. He excels in drawing crucial facts from declassified records, obscure memoirs, and above all from interviews with scores of key players ...many vividly accurate portraits ...a lively, realistic account of the messy business of making foreign policy." — Ross Munro, Washington Post Book World

"It's a great story, and Mr. Mann tells it well, from Nixon's breakthrough to Mr. Clinton's abandonment of any linkage between U.S. commerce and Chinese human rights. Mr. Mann is particularly thought-provoking about the change in our China relations as the Cold War ends." — The Wall Street Journal

"Industrious and convincing.... Carefully researched.... Genuinely fascinating." — The New York Times Book Review

"Indispensable..... Mann is the longtime correspondent of the Los Angeles Times, and a true China hand. His first book, the tragicomic BEIJING JEEP became a minor classic, for the information it contained and the insight with which it interpreted that information, as well as for the dark humor of its presentation.... Mann's new book takes all of the China policy of the United States from Nixon to Clinton as its theme, and so it is far more substantial; but it displays the same understanding and the same wit, which makes it as easy to read as the mountain of declassified papers and interviews on which it rests makes it authoritative." — Arthur Waldron, The New Republic

"In this outstanding study of U.S.-China relations, James Mann combines archival research and extensive interviews with both high- and low-ranking American officials.... The very richness of Mann's account underscores the gap between American intentions and accomplishments.... Mann has set standards that historians of diplomatic history will find hard to match. His smooth and witty prose style, combined with his insights into American personalities, makes his account one of lively politics, not abstract calculations." — Foreign Affairs

"Illuminating.... Having come up with a great idea for a book, Mann executes it well. As the diplomatic correspondent and former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, Mann could rely on firsthand sources. Many of the key players involved in shaping U.S. policy toward China over the past three decades are still alive. (Mann is also author of BEIJING JEEP, a classic on a troubled U.S.-China joint venture.) What's more, he got access to never-before-disclosed government documents, notably papers covering Nixon's secret diplomacy with China in the early 1970s." — BusinessWeek

"An engrossing history of US-China relations from the Nixon era to the present day.... Basing much of what he writes on previously classified documents, Mann's conclusions are most persuasive. A fine history that skillfully unravels the tangled tale of recent US-China policy." — Kirkus Reviews

"[Mann] has written a cogent and authoritative study." — Los Angeles Times Book Review

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