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China Reporting: An Oral History Of American Journalism In The 1930s And 1940s
by Stephen R. Mackinnon And Oris Friesen
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From Publishers Weekly
In 1982, a group of reporters and diplomats who had been in China between 1930 and 1950 met in Scottsdale, Ariz., to discuss press coverage of events in those years. Among them were John Hersey, John Fairbank and Annalee Jacoby Fadiman. These excerpts from the conference transcript suggest that those attending generally praised what they perceived to be their objectivity and ability to overcome censorship. MacKinnon, who teaches at Arizona State, and Friesen, an engineer, are less laudatory, pointing out that the inability of most Americans in China during that crucial period to speak the language rendered them incapable of discerning popular sentiment. Still, as the authors note, journalism is the first draft of history, and they suggest that those reporting from China did, in the words of a conference participant, "a pretty goddamn good job."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Shelley Fisher Fishkin, New York Times Book Review
"Readable, intelligent and thoughtful and should be read by anyone interested in China or in the processes that shape the news."
Arthur W. Hummel, Jr., Foreign Service Journal
"The refreshing and innovative recollections and introspections of a group of outstanding American China correspondents of the 1930s and 1940s have been skillfully selected and organized in this oral history. Virtually all of the important reporters in China during this time have contributed comments."
William Wei, Pacific Historical Review
"A substantial piece of work. Its combination of personal stories and scholarly judgments make it a book that professors will want to examine for a deeper understanding of Sino-American relations and that students will want to read for the sheer enjoyment of it."
Gaye Tuchman, American Journal of Sociology
"A splendidly useful and often intriguing oral history. It illuminates how U.S.-China relations soured and, drawing on sociological accounts of news work, dissects the special problems of foreign correspondents to analyze how intelligent and resourceful reporters came to misunderstand the Chinese revolution."
China Reporting documents the gathering of American journalists, diplomats and China scholars, "old China hands" all, who met in 1982 to discuss their experience in China.
About the Author
Stephen R. MacKinnon is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at Arizona State University. Oris Friesen has a Ph.D. in history and is a system software engineer at Bull Worldwide Information Systems.
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