It’s time for another episode of On Writing with Michael Neiberg. For this conversation, Michael is joined by Rana Mitter, author of China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism. Their discussion took place in the heart of London on a warm June afternoon at the British Academy, complete with all the background noises of the bustling city. Rana explains how China is shaping the modern narrative and memory through the reinvention of its role in World War II. An often overlooked theater, the Chinese government has taken liberties with its complicated response to the Japanese invasion and rewritten it as a fierce resistance and heroic battle against fascism.
It was only later that I came to understand that actually many of these events, which seem in some ways quite distant decades and decades ago, actually have a resonance in interpreting China in the present day.
Rana Mitter OBE FBA is a British historian and political scientist who specializes in the history of the Republic of China. He is ST Lee Chair in U.S.-Asia Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School. Until 2023 he was Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, formerly director of Oxford’s China Centre, and a Fellow and Vice-Master of St Cross College. He is the author of several books, including Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II (2013) which won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, and was named a Book of the Year in the Financial Times and Economist. His latest book is China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (Harvard, 2020).
Michael Neiberg is the Chair of War Studies at the U.S. Army War College.
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Description: The interior of the DC-3 with its complement of Chinese soldiers enroute to India on their task missions being transported by United States Army Air force flyers.
Photo Credit: Photographer unknown, U.S. Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C. via Library of Congress