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Gordon H. Chang Books In Order

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Friends and Enemies: The United States, China, and the Soviet Union, 1948-1972 (1990)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970 (2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fateful Ties: A History of America's Preoccupation with China (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Gordon H. Chang
Gordon H. Chang is a nonfiction author and a professor at Stanford University. The professor has a Ph.D. in History, and he has done extensive research on the relationship between China and America and Asian American art history as a whole. Chang’s work has earned him several awards, and he is among the most respected American historians. While Chang was born and raised in the US, he worked in Hong Kong and mainland China for over two decades, which explains his deep understanding of the region. Some of his predictions have earned the historian a few critics, but there is no doubt that facts support his arguments well.

Ghosts of Gold Mountain
Ghosts of Gold Mountain tells the story of the Chinese workers who were involved in building the Transcontinental Railroad. It is amazing how these individuals participated in forging modern America only to disappear from history. What happened to these individuals who came in crowds in search of a better life in America? How did they survive the years living in the western worksite and dynamiting tunnels that went through snow-packed cliffs in the Sierra Nevada and the scorching sun in the Utah desert? The author attempts to tell their stories, explaining what their daily lives would look like and how their lives went on after the railroad was completed.

This book aims to celebrate the Chinese railroad workers and their role in turning America to what it is today. These men, keen to escape from poverty, left their families behind and used their sweat and blood to fuel the rise of an interlinked and industrial America. Strangely, no one followed to see how they integrated into a society that was not so welcoming to them. How did they earn a living to sustain their families after the railroad? The author covers the railroad workers’ stories while celebrating their contribution to society. For the first time in history, the stories of 20,000 workers who participated in building the Central Pacific RR have been documented. Any interested in this part of history can now get names, and a brief on how most of the workers’ lives turned out.

The author, a history professor at Stanford, supervised the research for this project. The process involved researching both Chinese and English materials in China and the US. He traces the workers from China to the places they settled in San Francisco. The book is very detailed, covering everything from culture to their way of life. Through ship manifests, business records, and immigration documents, the author has drawn a perfect picture of events as they unfolded during this time. The author also highlights how cruel the new settlers treated the workers. Many died during this period, and their fellow workers had to go to extra lengths to take their bodies back home for a proper burial.

Ghosts of Gold Mountain documents the skill, hard work, and tenacity of the railroad workers who came from China. These workers had to dig by hand and, at times using explosives through lands covered by snow and in terrible environmental conditions. Given their efforts and the role that the workers played in American history, they should be recognized. Without them, the railroad through the Nevada desert and Donner Summit would not have been complete as well as other railroad projects that were completed soon after. There is enough evidence that the Chinese played a role in making the US economy rich, even if they have not been recognized for it.

Fateful Ties
Fateful Ties takes a more in-depth look at how Americans view China. Is the rising superpower friend or foe? What role will the country play in America’s future? In this book, the author draws on art, literature, politics, and culture that trace the long preoccupation America has had on China. Looking at history, it is easy to see why Americans fear and, at the same time, are fascinated by China. From the colonial time when the settlers were going through Asia and the pacific to the eighteenth and a good part of the nineteenth century when Americans traded in Chinese wares, the author covers it all, and much more.
China’s ancient culture attracted many people to its shore. The Christian missionaries were also keen to save a soul in what was considered heathen land and the vast markets that beckoned the expansionists. However, the country was quick to pass immigration restrictions, which discouraged many Americans from settling here. It also did not escape many that while China was a good friend during the second world war, she turned into a dangerous enemy in the Cold War. Later during the post-Mao era, China and America were involved in trade and other deals that saw a rise in both economies.

The author paints a perfect picture of how missionaries, entrepreneurs, artists, academics, and diplomats and their thoughts about China have contributed to America’s conception and growth over time. It is clear that the intercultural and international relations between these two countries are complex. However, while there is still fear about what will happen in the future, the two countries have always admired each other. This link needs to continue getting stronger for the sake of peace and growth. Through the past, the author shows China’s importance to America and makes it clear why these two countries maintain a cordial relationship.

Fateful Ties is a perfect read if you find the current relationship between China and America intriguing. The author takes you on a trip to the past, making it easy to understand what has led to the current situation. One of the outstanding things about this book is that it tells history without the dates and times. All the author does is document the perceptions of Americans towards China and vice versa. This makes the book interesting, the flow excellent, and the overall story outstanding. Even if you have little interest in matters of history, you will love this book.

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