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The author seeks above all to relate the events of this tumultuous period to certain tentative generalizations about the nature and course of the revolution. He is concerned less with the May Fourth Movement as such, for example, than with the revolution's intellectual origins, less with the Communist party's early political history than with the place of Marxist ideology in that history, less with the military aspects of the war of 1937-45 than with the influence of nationalism in the growing success of the Communists.
An important part of the book deals with the various governmental and non-governmental attempt at reform during the Kuomintang era, which the author shows were too little too late to dam the swelling flood of revolution. The conclusion evaluates the crucial role of imperialism, the peasantry, and the army in the Chinese "formula" for revolution and re-examines the relationship between Marxism and the Chinese Revolution.
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