Cover image for A great wall : six presidents and China : an investigative history
A great wall : six presidents and China : an investigative history
Tyler, Patrick.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 476 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Century Foundation book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E183.8.C5 T93 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A Great Wall is the defintive work on US-China relations since the Cold War. Veteran journalist Patrick Tyler utilizes original reporting from his years in China; interviews with presidents, secretaries of state, Chinese officials, and other key leaders; and 15,000 pages of newly declassified documents to chart the history of this fragile friendship over the last three decades, illuminating a relationship usually shrouded in secrecy, miscommunication, rivalry, fondness and fear.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this book, Tyler (former Beijing bureau chief for the New York Times) utilizes his expertise as an investigative reporter to describe how six presidential administrations (Nixon to Clinton) dealt with China. Through transcripts and interviews with people who worked in these administrations, Tyler very loosely reconstructs the sequence of U.S.-China relations, but he obviously prefers assessing power relations among "the presidents' men" to analyzing the presidential role. For example, he describes Kissinger's maneuvering and details just how Carter aide BrzezinskiÄ"whose ego stood like a pompadour over his sharp features"Äcompeted with Holbrooke, who "tried to stick the knife in with as much delicacy as possible." Compared to Leonard Kusnitz's Public Opinion and Foreign Policy (1984), this book does a poor job of identifying the presidential role in foreign policy. Also, in contrast to foreign correspondents Nicholas Kristof and Sherye Wudunn (China Wakes, LJ 7/94), Tyler's is a study in mere trivialities (for example, he presents as fact Mao's supposed sexual attraction to President Ford's blonde-haired, 16-year-old daughter, Susan). Not recommended.ÄPeggy Sitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Tyler offers a journalistic account of the last 30 years of US-China relations, based on declassified documents and personal interviews he conducted. His opening premise, that the US is preparing Taiwan for war with mainland China, serves as a prelude to his presentation of the "truths" about Sino-American relations that have brought about the present potential crisis. These include failure by the US to show restraint in its relations with Taiwan, the ability of China and Taiwan to manipulate the American political process, and the inability of the US to develop a consistent approach to China. The ensuing chapters provide details to flesh out these truths, but the focus remains more on individuals than historical context, with too many distracting asides, such as Anthony Lake's reputation for puns or Paul Nitze's silver hair. Although policy papers and other government documents are used well, too many conversations and attributions of motive are unsubstantiated, a necessity, Tyler explains, for securing candid interviews. The latter, combined with the overall tone and approach of the book, render it suitable only for general readers. L. M. Lees; Old Dominion University

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Editionp. ix
Forewordp. xvii
Cast of Charactersp. xxi
Prologue: the Risk of War . .p. 3
The Taiwan Crisisp. 19
The Sino-Soviet Border 1969p. 45
Nixon the Opening . .p. 105
Ford: Estrangement "I Smile Bitterly...."p. 181
Carter: Fulfillment: "The President Has Made Up His Mind . . ."p. 227
Reagan: . . and Taiwanp. 287
Bush: . . and Tiananmenp. 341
Clinton: the Butchers of Beijing . .p. 381
Transition: . . It Begins Againp. 417
Notesp. 431
Photograph Creditsp. 461
Acknowledgmentsp. 463
Indexp. 465