Cover image for Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen
Bergère, Marie-Claire.
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Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
ix, 480 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
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DS777 .B47 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Arguing that the life and work of Sun Yat-sen have been distorted by both myth and demythification, the author provides a fresh overall evaluation of the man and the events that turned an adventurer into the founder of the Chinese Republic and the leader of a great nationalist movement.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Not too many public figures are respected and upheld as national heroes in both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), but Sun Yat-sen is. He is a "pioneer of the revolution" to the Communists and the founding father to the dominant Nationalist Party of Taiwan. Bergère (Chinese civilization, National Inst. of Oriental Languages and Civilization, Paris) has written a new biography that seems very balanced and promising. Writings about Sun tend to divide sharply into two biased camps: highly politicized accounts by Chinese Communists of the heroic Sun opening the way for Mao vs. Western accounts of the myth-busting and belittling type. Bergère shows Sun in a much more balanced manner, and the scholarship is sound, as evidenced by the well-done notes and bibliography. Even so, for most libraries Harold Schiffrin's standard biography, Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary (LJ 7/80), is probably sufficient. This newer account is recommended only for libraries with a strong scholarly subject interest in China. (Index, maps, and illustrations not seen.)‘Charles V. Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., SUNY at Brockport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Sun Yat-sen is a challenge to biographers. A political failure nearly all his life, he is now canonized in both mainland China and Taiwan. Although he was a leading anti-Manchu revolutionary, the Revolution of 1911 occurred in his absence (and to his surprise). A compromise candidate, he became the first president of the new republic but resigned within six weeks. Sun was on the periphery of Chinese politics throughout the rest of the decade, dismissed as an impractical adventurer. He made naive and opportunistic alliances, with warlords and Japanese politicians and later with the Comintern. His ideology was so vague that few found anything in it with which to disagree. All in all, Sun was more successful after his death than during his lifetime; his legacy was used to legitimize both Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party and its communist rivals. This study by a leading historian of early-20th-century China shows Sun's strengths as well as his weaknesses and helps explain his appeal. Berg`ere's examination of Sun's Three Principles of the People is particularly incisive, and she provides enough context to make the biography accessible to general readers. Very highly recommended. All levels. R. E. Entenmann; St. Olaf College