|Fateful Ties: A History of America's Preoccupation with China
By Gordon H Chang
(Harvard University Press, 2015, 314 pp)
I had my first encounter with “the East” as a high school student growing up in suburban California, where I stumbled on the writings of the Taoist sage Zhuangzi and felt an inexplicable connection to his ancient, absurdist philosophy. A few years later, I found myself spending a summer in Beijing, which was still recovering from the scars of June 1989, and felt myself falling deeper in love with all things Chinese.
Today, some 20 years later, each time I board the short flight from Seoul to Beijing or Shanghai, I fear the magic will be gone, that the toxic air, rampant materialism or political repression will ruin my sense of connection with China. Yet every time I step off the plane, my fears are proven unfounded, and I am drawn deeper still into a lifelong quest to better understand China.
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