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Combining the insight of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World and the intrigue of Ben Affleck’s Argo, Ping Pong Diplomacy traces the story of how an aristocratic British spy used the game of table tennis to propel a Communist strategy that changed the shape of the world.
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.
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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 NguyenAbout the Author:
Nicholas Griffin is a journalist and author of four novels one work of non-fiction. His writing has appeared in The Times (UK), The Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and other publications on topics as disparate as sports and politics, piracy, filmmaking in the Middle East, and the natural sciences. Griffin has written for film and is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
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Book Description Scribner Book Company. HC. Condition: New. He takes us behind the scenes of the historic trip by the American team to China in 1971 and tells us what really happened and why. 'Filled with poignant examples of how the politics of Mao's Cultural Revolution used and destroyed the lives of Chinese officials enamoured with the play of the little white ball.'. Seller Inventory # LApr6-12 GO002E
Book Description Scribner, 2014. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # MB011MBZSMK
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Book Description Scribner, 2014. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1ST.1ST PRINT. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 1451642776n