WildChina Book Club:
The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present by John Pomfret (Event #97)
For January, our first book club of 2022, we’re reading The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present in preparation for our chat with the author, John Pomfret.
A remarkable history of the two-centuries-old relationship between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the present day
From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap Chinese tea, to the US warships facing off against China’s growing navy in the South China Sea, from the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined.
For more than two centuries, American and Chinese statesmen, merchants, missionaries, and adventurers, men and women, have profoundly influenced the fate of these nations. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.
Drawing on personal letters, diaries, memoirs, government documents, and contemporary news reports, John Pomfret reconstructs the surprising, tragic, and marvelous ways Americans and Chinese have engaged with one another through the centuries. A fascinating and thrilling account, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom is also an indispensable book for understanding the most important—and often the most perplexing—relationship between any two countries in the world.Purchase the book here
Speaker for The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom
John Pomfret is an award-winning writer and former foreign correspondent and editor at the Washington Post. His book — The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, America and China, 1776 to the Present — charts the tumultuous story of the United States and China since the founding of the United States by focusing on the stories of Americans and Chinese who forged those ties.
John‘s first book, Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China, was hailed by critics for the way it told the story of China’s epochal changes from the late 1950s until the modern day through the lives of John‘s classmates at Nanjing University. John was awarded the Osborn Elliott Prize for Journalism in Asia by the Asia Society in 2003 and the Shorenstein Award by Harvard and Stanford universities for his lifetime coverage of Asia. Pomfret is married to WildChina founder, Mei Zhang, and lives in California with his family.
Ken Wilcox currently serves as Emeritus Chairman of Silicon Valley Bank and was Vice Chairman of SPD Silicon Valley Bank. Mr. Wilcox was previously the CEO of SVB Financial Group. In that role, he successfully pursued a strategy of expansion and diversification, while remaining focused on the group’s core niches of technology, life sciences, venture capital and premium wineries. Mr. Wilcox is Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society of Northern California, Treasurer of the Asian Art Museum, and a member of the Advisory Board of the 21st Century China Center Advisory Board. Also, he is a member of the board of the Equilibrium Capital Group, and Chief Credit Officer of Columbia Lake Venture Debt Fund.
He is also an adjunct professor and member of International Advisory Board at Fudan University in Shanghai, and an advisor to a number of startups. Earlier in his career, Mr. Wilcox was a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2006 to 2012. Mr. Wilcox earned a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School, as well as a PhD in German studies Ohio State University.