Article

Chiang Kai-shek

Jeremy Taylor

in Chinese Studies


Published online August 2015 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199920082.016.0119

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Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi 蔣介石)—also referred to as Chiang Chung-cheng (Jiang Zhongzheng 蔣中正)—is one of the most controversial figures in modern Chinese history. He is also one of the most studied. He has been the focus of a vast array of historiography, biography, hagiography, and demonization. For early critics, Chiang was seen, from his purging of the Communists in 1927, as a “betrayer” of the Chinese Revolution. This assessment is now a point of considerable contention among historians. His creation of a unified yet authoritarian Chinese state during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) is also a prominent focus of scholarship, as is his role as China’s leader during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). Earlier assessments often ended their study of Chiang with his defeat by the communists in the Chinese Civil War and his subsequent flight to Taiwan in 1949. However, more recent scholarship has explored both the controversies and achievements of the quarter of a century that Chiang spent on Taiwan, and his legacy on that island in the period since 1975. There remain major differences in approaches to the study of Chiang along political, methodological, and national lines, but the deposition of Chiang’s diaries at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, in 2004 has ensured that a steady flow of scholarly reassessments has been published since then. This article focuses almost exclusively on studies of Chiang himself, rather than on studies dealing with immediate members of his family (such as Soong May-ling and Chiang Ching-kuo)—many of which would justify separate entries of their own.

Article.  8223 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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