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China A New History

CHINA A NEW HISTORY BOOK: John King Fairbank devoted his life to writing and teaching on China, a
country whose history and society absorbed him throughout his adult
years. This book is a fitting conclusion to his career.
Fairbank, who was affectionately referred to as JKF by his colleagues
and students, began as a scholar of British history. But he was drawn to
the study of China by the publication of its diplomatic archives in 1932,
when he was in China doing research for his dissertation. That dissertation
emerged as the pioneering monograph Trade and Diplomacy on the
China Coast, which launched the study of Qing dynasty documents and
China’s interaction with the West. In 1936 Fairbank joined the Harvard
University History Department, where he introduced the history of modern
China to its curriculum. His lectures, given with wry wit and humorous
slides, presented history as a story. For the next five decades he continued
to teach at Harvard, to work for the United States government in
Washington, D.C., and in China during World War II, and to write, coauthor,
and edit over three dozen books plus hundreds of articles, reviews,
commentaries, and congressional testimonies. Fairbank was the
dean of modern Chinese studies not only in the United States but in most
of the world—a teacher, mentor, administrator, public educator, and historian.
I first met JKF in 1953 when I entered Harvard’s East Asian Regional
Studies master’s program. He subsequently became my Ph.D. thesis advisor
and invited me to become a Research Associate of Harvard’s East
Asian Research Center (later renamed the Fairbank Center for East Asian
Research), where I have been ever

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