Now substantially revised and updated, this balanced and lively history of the People's Republic of China offers a narrative and interpretive appraisal of this great nation since its post-World War II beginnings. Examining first the historical circumstances of the Chinese revolution and the cast of characters who seized power in 1949 after decades of national disintegration and defeat, the author then goes on to illuminate such epic events as the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao reforms. Addressing the bold economic reform of the 1980s, this new edition critically analyzes the cry for democracy which tragically led to the 1989 bloodshed in Tiananmen Square, taking full account of the confrontation's aftermath. Looking at the '90s, the text examines the efforts of China's aging leadership to regain control and to find a place in a radically changed international environment. Complete with illustrative biographies of major figures since 1949, this book tells the essential story of contemporary China: the background, the ideology, the massive campaigns, the bureaucratization, the blunders, and the achievements.