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  • Chen Hansheng

Chen Hansheng

China’s Last Romantic Revolutionary

Stephen R. MacKinnon

English , 2023/03 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press

Tags: Biography, Chinese History

229 x 183 mm , 468pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-237-260-3

  • US$55.00

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Chen Hansheng was not only a pioneer of modern Chinese social science, remembered for the village studies he organized by teams of researchers in the 1930s. He was also a political operative whose career as an underground and aboveground Communist activist spanned the twentieth century and the globe. This book draws on unique interviews, beginning in 1979, with Chen himself, his family and associates, along with an exhaustive examination of documents, writings, and archives, to build a rounded portrait of Chen, the man, and his world.


“Stephen MacKinnon’s lifetime study of eminent social scientist and Communist Chen Hansheng makes for an absorbing, thrilling, and illuminating read. This product of decades of researching Chen, and of years of discussions with him, MacKinnon shows us how one enterprising and creative scholar became dedicated to the cause, worked for it, and then ended his life sad and angry about what became of the Chinese Communist Party in power.”

—Hans van de Ven, University of Cambridge

“In this, his latest, book, Stephen MacKinnon brings us a piece of research he has been working on for over forty years. His biography of Chen Hansheng brings to life a man who lived to the ripe old age of 107 and who is probably most famous as one of China’s premier social scientists. He was also, as MacKinnon demonstrates, centrally involved in sub rosa Communist activities most notably in the spy ring surrounding Richard Sorge and Ozaki Hotsumi.”

—Joshua Fogel, York University (Toronto)

“An utterly absorbing biography of a great scholar and activist whose life exceeded the entire twentieth century. MacKinnon’s writing follows the brisk pace at which the lives of Chen and his cohort moved between China, India, the Soviet Union, Europe, and the US, through wars and revolution, charged with political passions, developmental dreams, and bitter disappointments. The book artfully weaves Chen’s scholarship, the political and the personal to present a monumental life.”

—Prasenjit Duara, Duke University

“Chen Hansheng’s long life spanned the twentieth century and he embodied the history of those turbulent times—scholar, underground Communist, and activist. Stephen MacKinnon’s deeply-sourced biography carries the reader along, with scholarly insight and thrilling narrative in tandem. This is China’s twentieth century told as never before.”

—Rana Mitter, University of Oxford

Stephen R. MacKinnon is a scholar of twentieth-century Chinese history, who has lived and worked on and off in China since 1979. Recent books are on the history of China’s Anti-Japanese War, including Wuhan, 1938: War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China (2008) and Negotiating China’s Destiny in World War II (2014). He is an Emeritus Professor of History at Arizona State University.

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