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Ping-Pong Diplomacy : The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World
by Nicholas Griffin

Overview - THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a detente--achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it "Ping-Pong Diplomacy." But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong's foreign policy.  Read more...

 
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More About Ping-Pong Diplomacy by Nicholas Griffin
 
 
 
Overview
THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a detente--achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it "Ping-Pong Diplomacy." But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong's foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union.
"Ping-Pong" "Diplomacy" traces a crucial inter-section of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781451642773
  • ISBN-10: 1451642776
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: January 2014
  • Page Count: 336


Related Categories

Books > Sports & Recreation > History
Books > Sports & Recreation > Table Tennis
Books > Political Science > International Relations - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-10-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

Griffin, a journalist, novelist, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, merges sport and diplomacy in a surprising story of how, for a moment in 1971, ping pong became a key player in world affairs. He analyzes the role the game played in Chinese politics while also profiling Ivor Montagu, a Jewish-British aristocrat who, driven by his love of ping pong and more private career as a communist spy, championed the growth of the International Table Tennis Federation. The invitation the American ping pong team received from China in 1971 was an unprecedented surprise, as was the impact of the match on world affairs. Griffin makes a strong case that the success of the American team’s China trip played perfectly into President Richard Nixon’s own historic China trip and the detente that altered world politics. Throughout, Griffin balances geopolitical context with sympathetic depictions of the world-class ping pong players who competed. Among them was Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese world champion who was disgraced during the dangerous days of the Cultural Revolution, and American star Glenn Cowan, who died homeless in 2004. Griffin has found an intriguing story with which to illuminate several important political events of the later 20th century and told it well. (Jan.)

 
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