Out of China

2018 shortlist

Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination
Robert Bickers
(Published by Allen Lane)

“An ambitious book delivered in an animated, accessible style. Based on an impressive sweep of archival material, with brilliant vignettes on subjects such as pre-war Shanghai, Bickers demonstrates a clarity and depth of knowledge which helps to frame modern China.”

- Wolfson History Prize Judges

About the book

Out of China uses a brilliant array of unusual, strange and vivid sources to recreate a now fantastically remote world: the corrupt, lurid modernity of pre-war Shanghai, the often tiny patches of 'extra-territorial' land controlled by European powers, the entrepôts of Hong Kong and Macao, and the myriad means, through armed threats, technology and legal chicanery, by which China was kept subservient until, gradually, it emerged from Western control. That struggle continued until the end of the twentieth century, through the Cold War and its aftermath, and shaped both Chiang Kai-shek's rule in Taiwan and the China of Mao Zedong and his successors. Today Chinese nationalism stays firmly rooted in memories of its degraded past - the quest for self-sufficiency, the determination to assert China's standing in the world, to stake its outstanding territorial claims, and never to be vulnerable to renewed attack. History matters deeply to Beijing's current rulers - and Out of China explains why.

About the author

Robert Bickers is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is also the author of author Empire Made Me and The Scramble for China.