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Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an independent Russia, much scholarship, both in Russia and the West, has been concerned with the pre-revolutionary monarchist and nationalist parties which had attracted relatively little attention earlier.
Professor Spence is described on the dust-cover of this book as 'perhaps now the leading historian of China in the English-speaking world'. Without doubt he is the most imaginative and the most versatile scholar working in that field. The Gate of Heavenly Peace, first published in 1981, was a history of modern China as seen through the lives of Chinese writers and intellectuals.