Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao's China (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Oct 28, 2010 - History - 624 pages
2 Reviews
President Nixon's famous 1972 trip has gone down in history as the first great opening between the West and Communist China. However, eighteen years previously, former prime minister Clement Attlee had also been to China to shake Chairman Mao by the hand. In the second half of 1954, scores of European delegations set off for Beijing, in response to Prime Minister Chou En-lai's invitation to 'come and see' the New China and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Communist victory. In this delightfully eclectic book, part comedy, part travelogue, and part cultural history, Patrick Wright uncovers the story of the four British delegations that made this journey. These delegations included an amazing range of people from the political, academic, artistic, and cultural worlds of the day: Clement Attlee and his former Health Minister, Nye Bevan; dapper and self-important philosopher A. J. Ayer; the brilliant young artist-reporter Paul Hogarth; poet and novelist Rex Warner (a former Marxist who had just married a Rothschild); and the infuriatingly self-obsessed Stanley Spencer who famously lectured Chou En-lai on the merits of his hometown of Cookham, but who emerges as the unlikely hero of the story. Using a host of previously unpublished letters and diaries, Patrick Wright reconstructs their journey via the USSR to the New China, capturing the impressions - both mistaken and genuinely insightful - of the delegates as they ventured behind both the iron and the bamboo curtains. Full of comic detail of the delegates and their interactions, it is also a study of China as it has loomed in the British mind: the primitive orient of early western philosophy, a land of backwardness that was used to contrast with the progressive dynamism of Victorian Britain, as well as the more recent allure of revolutionary transformation as it appeared in the minds of twentieth century Britons.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Opinionated - LibraryThing

And a very British history of the mission it is too - and to be honest its not immediately clear why Patrick Wright would go into such detail about the 3 British missions to China in the mid 50s ... Read full review

Review: Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao's China

User Review  - Catherine Woodman - Goodreads

I found this account of post-communist Russia and China to be a little too pedantic and not enough ot a story. Read full review

Contents

1Embarkation
2Holding Out in the Legation Quarter
3Paul Hogarths Marxist Shudder
4The Battle of British Friendship
5The Charms of AntiAmericanism
6Barbara Castles Bevanite Sigh
7Chou EnLais Winning Smile
PART IIOne Good Elk and Dinner with the PolitburoMoscow
ii
15The Flight of a Brown Phoenix Cedric Dover
iii
PART IVListening to the OrioleChina
iv
16Clement Attlees Break
iv
The Undiplomatic Rapture of the Cultural Delegation
iv
The Second Labour Delegation Grapples with the Facts
iv
19Nuts about Pavlov? Resuming the Scientific Dialogue
iv
PART VThe Artists ReckoningChina
v
20Revolution Comes to the Art Schools and Museums
24

8Flowers for Edith Summerskill
ii
9Just Like Manchester a Hundred Years Ago
ii
10The Tragic Thoughts of Chairman Smith
ii
11Stanley Spencers Pyjama Cord and the Socialist Tree
ii
PART IIIAnticipating ChinaMoscow to Ulan Bator
iii
12Ghosts over Siberia Casson and Pulleyblank
iii
13A Blue Jacket for Abraham Lincoln Paul Hogarth
iii
14How China Came to Cookham Stanley Spencer
iii
21Paul Hogarths Sky Full of Diamonds
40
22Stanley Spencers English Takeaway
74
AfterwordHoly China?
78
APPENDIXMembership of Three Delegations
78
Notes
78
Photographic Acknowledgements
67
Index
96

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