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First and foremost, this is a well written, well researched book. It is easy to read and never boring. So on that sense it is a good biography. The book also has some great pictures and good maps at the beginning of the book.
The book does a terrific job showing the politics going on in China between 1911 and 1945. The books strongest points about Chiang Kai-Shek are on his battles against the warlords and desires to eliminate the communists. I also felt the book did a great job discussing his wife, and her famous family the Soongs.
That being said, I felt the book was weak in its overall assessment of Chiang Kai-Shek. I got the impression that the author really did not want to make any strong judgements about Chiang Kai Shek. He does not hold back any facts, but just does not make strong judgements. However, the author is highly critical of Sun Yatsen, and General Stillwell. Two great men in history, this author is not afraid to judge, but Chiang Kai Shek he does not.
Sun Yatsen was a great leader and had such a vision for China, but Fenby is highly critical of him. Stillwell was exactly right on how Chiang Kai-Shek would lose China and was dead on in his assessment of KMT corruption. Instead, Fenby is critical of Stillwell. For a better look at Stillwell look at the Recent book on the Burma Road.
Also, I was surprized at how rushed the author gets at the end on the ultimate Communist victory. Fenby is great in discussing the Marshall visit and attempt to broker a peace, but his description of the Nationalist collapse and retreat to Taiwan was rushed in my opinion. Also, there is little to no information about Chiang Kai Shek on Taiwan.
But I am being picky. I enjoyed this book very much and am glad Fenby wrote it. Had Chiang Kai Shek been a better leader the history of Asia and the world would be very different.Chiang Kai-Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost Overview
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