The Revolution as a Dinner Party


Across China with Edgar Snow, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stilwell, Chiang Kai-shek, and Sun Yat-sen

By Matthew Stevenson

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From the author of Letters of Transit, Reading the Rails, and Appalachia Spring comes this delightful account of a journey across the People’s Republic of China, in search of the men who shaped its modern history.

Along the way Matthew Stevenson visits Mao’s cave house in Yenan, where Chiang was kidnapped in Xian, General Joseph Stilwell’s house in Chongqing, and Sun Yat-sen’s hideouts in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Between Beijing and Hong Kong, and many places in between, Stevenson moves around by bicycle, train, and foot, allowing him to describe the places that shaped the lives of China’s founders.

Of Mao’s cave in Yenan, Stevenson writes: “The simple houses are dug into the side of the hill and are reached by climbing steps from the parking lot. Most have nothing more than a bed, a few chairs, a table, and a cupboard—the revolution playing out in what New Yorkers would call a ‘single-room occupancy.’”

The Revolution as a Dinner Party is a graceful book, full of observation and humor, that is perfect for one today thinking about China—either its past or future. It also an accessible history of China’s last hundred years and biographies of the men at the heart of the country’s many conflicts.

Published by Odysseus Books, June, 2020.  Paperback, 115 pages.