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  • American Life

American Life

A Chinese Historian’s Perspective

Cho-yun Hsu・Translated by Carissa Fletcher

English , 2021/05 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press

Tags: History, Biography

229 x 152 x 25 mm , 368pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-988-237-210-8

  • US$60.00

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“Red and blue appear in stark contrast with one another on the map of America. But the even more profound divide is the alienation in our hearts.”

This work is a striking analysis of the struggles faced by American society, written from the perspective of a Chinese professor of history who spent 60 years of his life in the US. As both an insider and outsider to this country, Cho-yun Hsu is able to perceive what many other Americans may take for granted, and it is this viewpoint—together with his decades of experience teaching history at the University of Pittsburgh—that make this work so unusual and worthwhile.

This work analyzes American history through a wide range of topics, including culture, politics, economics, industrialization, class, ethnicity, the urban-rural divide, and more. Expertly analyzing the origins of the tension and conflict between different classes and ethnic groups in American society, this book seeks to offer a way forward from a humanistic perspective, in the hope that American society may be renewed through collective efforts, and find a new path.


This book represents reminiscences from the life of a sojourner, and it is a diagnostic report dissecting the ills of American society, or still more a moving epic brimming with pensive lament, as it vividly outlines how the American social and political system has moved step by step toward decline.

—Yun-han Chu, Academician of Academia Sinica

As someone who has lived in and written about China and Taiwan for many years, I found this a brilliant turning of the tables: an astute long-term resident of the United States, using his lens as someone raised in the greater China world, to look at America’s problems and foibles. One of the great contemporary thinkers in the Sinophone world, Cho-yun Hsu gives us a lucid explanation of the problems he sees engulfing his adopted homeland and the lessons from the Chinese world that might help save it.

—Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Professor Cho-yun Hsu has provided a compelling account of life in America since the late 1960s to date—its ups and downs, glories and challenges, and dreams and compromises. His vantage point as a Chinese historian informs his reflections and insights into a nation in troubled times.

—David Der-wei Wang, Harvard University

Cho-yun Hsu, an internationally recognized authority on ancient Chinese history and comparative civilizations, earned his PhD from the University of Chicago. He was Professor Emeritus of History and Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, and elected Academician of Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

As one of the founding members of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Hsu was instrumental in supporting and encouraging global research in Chinese Studies. In 2004, he received the Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies Award, the highest honor of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which recognizes his life-long dedication to the advancement of Asian Studies in the international arena.

He has authored or coauthored numerous publications, including China: A New Cultural History (2012), Western Chou Civilization (1988), Han Agriculture: The Formation of the Early Chinese Agrarian Economy (1980), and Ancient China in Transition: An Analysis of Social Mobility (1965).


Carissa Fletcher specializes in academic and historical translation. She holds a Master’s degree in Mandarin and English translation from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Her previous translation titles include The East Turkestan Independence Movement, 1930s to 1940s by Wang Ke, and The Language Situation in China (Volume 5 and Volume 6), edited by Li Yuming and Li Wei.

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