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A History of the Modern Chinese Army

by Xiaobing Li

Availablepaperback$27.95 978-0-8131-9240-6
Out of Printcloth$39.95 978-0-8131-2438-4
Availableweb pdf$27.95 978-0-8131-7224-8
Availableepub$27.95 978-0-8131-3936-4
432 pages  Pubdate: 08/14/2009  6 x 9 x 1.0625  44 b&w photos

Xiaobing Li's comprehensive examination of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) offers new insights into the military's central place in modern Chinese society. A History of the Modern Chinese Army goes beyond the usual Western assessments of the Chinese military 'threat' and also expands on the politically constricted scholarship of native Chinese military historians. Li offers a sweeping yet thorough study of modern Chinese armed forces in the context of the nation's cultural traditions, its Communist revolution, and recent technological innovations that have radically transformed all aspects of Chinese society. Grounding the text in both newly released archival documents and the personal testimonies of over two hundred PLA soldiers, Li adopts military modernization as his central theme. A History of the Modern Chinese Army links the modernization of the military to China's rapid growth as a major industrial producer and its growing power in the international economy. Openness to political reforms is necessary, he argues, to ensure China's continued progress toward building one of the world's most advanced professional military forces. Li's analysis thus sheds new light on China's achievement and maintenance of its current status as a rising global power.

Xiaobing Li, professor of history and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is coauthor of Voices from the Korean War: Personal Stories of American, Korean, and Chinese Soldiers. He served in the People’s Liberation Army in China.

"Xiaobing Li has added a most useful study to the growing literature on the People's Liberation Army of China. In more than a decade of research and careful mining of sources, Li has written a comprehensive chronological study but also a thematically intriguing one. He situates the PLA in Chinese society and shows the various sociopolitical influences that have impacted the military as an institution. This is a novel approach. Li's study deserves wide readership in the China studies community and among China security specialists." --avid Shambaugh, editor of Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics

"A superb job in producing the first comprehensive history in English on the development of the Chinese military. The study is supported by extensive research on Chinese sources made available in the past two decades. It explains the implications of China's military modernization in the twenty-first century. It is highly revealing and highly recommended." --Chen Jian, author of Mao's China and the Cold War

"A superb volume that will be a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the Chinese armed forces. This study is at once an operational history and a political history, as well as an institutional history of a military about which much too little is understood. The interviews and the human dimensions of the narrative put the 'people' back into the People's Liberation Army." --David M. Finkelstein, coeditor of Chinese Warfighting: The PLA Experience since

"A splendid account of the origin and development of one of China's most important institutions, told through the histories of its rank and file soldiers, its ambitious young officer corps and the party that ultimately controls it. Professor Li situates the army firmly inside Chinese society and culture, analyzing the ways in which it both responded to and shaped the changing world around it. Lis study is prodigiously researched, clearly and persuasively argued, and indispensable to anyone who desires to understand China today." --Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990

"This excellent and well-written survey of the PLA and its role in contemporary China belongs in every college library." --C. J. Weeks, Southern Polytechnic State University

"Li Xiabing's new history marks a major achievement in the study of the Chinese Communist armed forces, collectively known as the People's Liberation Army, or the PLA, primarily for the simple reason that there has been a glaring shortage of anything readable in the Western languages on the inner logic and historical evolution of the PLA. A PLA soldier himself, Li has unique advantages in producing such an impressive tome. First of all, he has gathered a large and unparalleled pool of primary and secondary sources, Chinese or otherwise, for writing this book. The result is a well-researched, richly documented book that adds authenticity to many of its claims. Secondly, Li's prior service in the PLA has clearly given him an intimate perspective on the social life and cultural transformation of the PLA, which makes the book unique in that it is the first attempt in a Western language to reveal the history of the PLA as "a soldier's story." --Yu Maochun, United States Naval Academy

"China has come a long way since the days of the Cold War when they posed an unlikely threat. You won’t find a better primer on this new global force." --HBC

"Named one of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles in its January 2008 issue."--Choice

“This book will be of benefit to all those interested in PLA institutional history, PLA operational history, PLA transformation through the years, and the political history of the People’s Republic. It provides much information, some of it unique, about many significant events and developments. I recommend it to those interested in China, its military, and its relations with the rest of the world.” Gary J. Blige, Journal of Military History

“A History of the Modern Chinese Army is a crucial first step for English-langauge history of the PLA. Viewed in light of China’s steadily ascending military spending, paired with the growing shadow cast on the world stage, this is a compelling and informative read for scholars of Asian history and the general public alike.” Jonathan D. Thomas, The American Graduate

“A. . . clear portrayal of the reasons behind, the limitations on, and the effects of Chinese military reforms under the People’s Republic.” --Pacific Affrairs

"Professor Xiaobing Li has done us a great service with this contribution. Among the conclusions that we can draw from this book are that China’s military remains behind in its evolution in spite of many years of efforts at modernization, and that its dependence on foreign expertise, particularly Russian, continues." --On Track

"Professor Li belongs to an indispensable and distinct group of scholars that has emerged in the post-Mao period….Their contribution to our understanding of the PLA, a force that will require our increasing attention, cannot be ignored." --On track

"Li does an credible job of walking the fine line of the elaborate charade of the creation of an “independent” modern developmental state."--The China Journal

"The book is very well researched and is a valuable addition to the growing literature on the PLA that will appeal to both specialists and general readers."--The China Quarterly

“Although there are many fine books on specific aspects of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), there is a real need for a more general work surveying the Chinese military. Li Xiaobang, professor history at the University of Central Oklahoma and himself a PLA veteran, has produced such a volume.” --J.T. Dreyer, Department of Political Science, University of Miami

“This well-written, broad overview of Chinese modern military history provides an interesting and useful approach to understanding the domestic and geopolitical forces that have shaped China’s military forces.” --China Review International