These private journals, made available here for the first time, record Hugh Trevor-Roper's visit to the People's Republic of China in the autumn of 1965, shortly before the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, and describe the controversial aftermath of his journey on his return to England. The visit was a catalogue of frustrations, which he relates with the verve and irony of a master narrator who relished the human comedy. His efforts to meet the real life and mind of China, in whose history and politics he had long been interested, were blocked at every turn by the resources of state propaganda and the claustrophobic attention of sullen Party guides. The visit was arranged by the London-based Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, which was ostensibly committed to the impartial interchange of culture and ideas. It proved to be run by a Communist claque whose ruthless methods of control outwitted the well-connected membership. Back in England, and with help from MI5, he resolved to get to the bottom of the society's affairs. His investigations provoked a tumultuous public row which Trevor-Roper, no shirker of controversy, zestfully traces in these pages. Through the book, which closes with an account of his visit to Taiwan and South-East Asia in 1967, there run the wisdom of historical perspective that he brought to contemporary events and his lifelong commitment to the defence of liberal values and practices against their ideological adversaries.
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Country of Publication:
20 February 2020
A Note on the Text List of Illustrations List of Abbreviations Introduction 1. China, 1965 2. London and Oxford, 1965 3. History of a Front Organisation, 1966 4. Taiwan and Cambodia, 1967 Appendix A. Through Others' Eyes: Peking and London Appendix B. Trevor-Roper's Companions in China Acknowledgements Bibliography Index
Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003) was Regius Professor of History at the University of Oxford for over twenty years, a member of the House of Lords from 1979 and Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge 1980-87. His historical interests included England during the 17th century civil wars, the history of ideas during the Renaissance and Enlightenment, 20th century espionage and treason, and Hitler's Germany. Trevor-Roper was a senior wartime Intelligence officer, and retained his links with the security services until the 1970s. He also travelled widely overseas as a highly regarded special correspondent for the Sunday Times. Richard Davenport-Hines has edited or co-edited three previous volumes of Trevor-Roper's letters and journals. His most recent book is a study of communist espionage, the Security Service and the Cambridge spies, Enemies Within (2018). He is a former Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
Reviews for The China Journals: Ideology and Intrigue in the 1960s
Enjoyable for the human comedy and high quality of Trevor-Roper's prose. * The Spectator * Expertly edited, with touches of wit, but with pathos, too... The China Journals is a book as suitable for relishing Trevor-Roper's bitchy brilliance as it is for its fascinating insight into a China about to change forever. * History Today * Consistently entertaining...Scholarly, incisive and omniscient, Davenport-Hines has done another wonderful job. * Literary Review * These diaries are as much about the forgotten world of Britain's intellectual and academic elite in the Cold Wars as they are about China. They offer unusual light on the cultural Cold War underway in the West between fellow travellers of the Communist regimes, then apparently on the rise, and Western anti-Communists of various strains. * The Oldie *