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A Road is Made: Communism in Shanghai 1920-1927. By S. A. SMITH (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon P., 2000; pp. 315. 45 [pounds sterling]).
As S. A. Smith notes in the introduction to A Road is Made, even readers 'otherwise unfamiliar' with the history of the Chinese communist party may well have heard of 'the brief seizures of power by armed pickets' that occurred in Shanghai in late March, 1927, and of the violent reprisals that followed (p. 7). Most probably, Smith suggests, their knowledge of that period springs from their reading Andre Malraux's celebrated novel Man's Fate (La condition humaine) which focused on those dramatic events. This was certainly true in my case, and the novel had such an effect on me that it played a formative role in my decision some forty years ago to devote my academic work to the study of Chinese history.
Since the nineteen-eighties, there has been an outpouring of works on Shanghai and its …