How did a nation, after a long and painful period of dynastic decline, intellectual upheaval, foreign occupation, and civil war, manage to burst forth onto the world stage with such an impressive run of hyperdevelopment and wealth creation - culminating in the extraordinary dynamism of China today?
Wealth and Power answers this question by examining the lives of eleven influential officials, writers, activists and leaders whose contributions helped create modern China. This fascinating survey begins in the lead - up to the first Opium War with Wei Yuan, the nineteenth-century scholar and reformer who was one of the first to urge China to borrow ideas from the West.
It concludes in our time with human-rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, an outspoken opponent of single-party rule. Along the way, we meet titans of Chinese culture, whose common goal is their determined pursuit of fuqiang, shorthand for 'wealth and power', something that has come to define the modern Chinese character and remains the key to understanding many of China's actions today.