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

Griffin, Nicholas

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ISBN 10: 1634505565 / ISBN 13: 9781634505567
Published by Skyhorse Publishing 2015-09-15, 2015
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
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1634505565 Never used in Good condition. Cover has a crease. Bookseller Inventory # Z1634505565Z3

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History ...

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing 2015-09-15

Publication Date: 2015

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Good

Edition: Reprint.

About this title


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 détente 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 inter­section 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.

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2014: Table tennis is a sport invented by monarchs that somehow became the bridge between the capitalist and communist world. In his thorough but briskly paced book Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World, Nicholas Griffin details the surprising geopolitical implications and manipulations of table tennis throughout the 20th century. There are four nations at play: the Brits, namely Ivor Montagu, the man who introduced China to the sport and turned out to be a secret communist spy; the Chinese government, who hosted the World Table Tennis Championships as a means of distracting its population from the fact that tens of millions had died in the wake of three years of famine; the Americans who used the game to create an opportunity for President Nixon to visit Beijing (coining the phrase after which the book takes its title); and the Japanese nationals, who use the sport as a means of being recognized as a serious player in the international community. "There was something to Ping-Pong, a strange tone of diplomacy that was allowing the Japanese to reposition the way the rest of the world was looking at them," Griffin writes. "Of course, no one would have been looking too hard had they not won." --Kevin Nguyen

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