Chin, Annping 1950-
Chin, Annping 1950-
Children of China: Voices from Recent Years, Knopf (New York, NY), 1988.
(With husband, Jonathan D. Spence) The Chinese Century: A Photographic History of the Last Hundred Years, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.
Four Sisters of Hofei: A History, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.
Author of introduction, with Mansfield Freeman, of Tai Chen on Mencius: Explorations in Words and Meaning, by Zhen Dai, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1990; contributor to the Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003; contributor to periodicals, including the New Republic.
Annping Chin is a historian specializing in Chinese thought. Born in Taiwan, Chin moved with her family to mainland China as a child and in 1962 to Richmond, Virginia. In the United States, she studied mathematics at Michigan State University before undertaking her Ph.D. studies at Columbia University. She is a university senior lecturer, who teaches courses and seminars in Chinese philosophy and ancient texts. Aside from philosophy, Chin has an academic interest in Confucian knowledge and analyzing and interpreting ancient bamboo-slip texts.
In 1996 Chin published The Chinese Century: A Photographic History of the Last Hundred Years with her husband, Jonathan D. Spence. Chin collected hundreds of photographic images of China from throughout the twentieth century, some of which have not been seen outside of China before the publishing of the book. The modern evolution of China, from Sun Yat Sen's Guomindang movement of public education and social control through the Japanese invasion and Communist takeover to more contemporary issues are all covered. These more modern images cover political calls for democracy, the troubles of overpopulation, and a range of environmental concerns. Brad Hooper, writing in Booklist, remarked on China's turbulent history, saying that "readers are afforded an indelible overview of every aspect of that turbulence" in Chin's book. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that Chin and Spence "produced a stirring, spectacular political and social chronicle indispensable to understanding modern China."
Chin became acquainted with a fellow lecturer at Yale University whose life story she admired. This relationship paved the way for the publishing of Four Sisters of Hofei: A History. The book recounts the personal life of four sisters, the first of whom was born in 1907, who lived through most of China's twentieth century. Born to rich parents who gave high priority to education, particularly among girls, each of the sisters told Chin their remarkable life stories, which easily double as a social history lesson. Yuan-ho, the eldest, lived a life around the theater and fled to Taiwan before the Maoist takeover; Yun-ho was fierce and feisty, yet persecuted by the Red Guard for her wealth while her husband was sent off to a re-education camp; Chao-ho married a writer who was also persecuted; and the youngest, Ch'ung-ho, married an American and eventually lectured at Yale University.
A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the book as a "meticulously researched story of four sisters, teem- ing with ideas and characters like an intellectual marketplace as it draws on their lives to illustrate the cultural, social, and political history of 20th-century China." Writing in the Asian Review of Books, Peter Gordon thought that it was "a bit frustrating for those who like their history straight up," but commented that "the vignettes of daily life are illuminating, interesting, and often charming." Booklist contributor Elsa Gaztambide noted that sections of the book "provide glimpses into the ancient rhythms of marriage and the household rituals are particularly fascinating."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Asian Review of Books, August 11, 2002, Peter Gordon, review of Four Sisters of Hofei: A History.
Booklist, November 1, 1996, Brad Hooper, review of The Chinese Century: A Photographic History of the Last Hundred Years, p. 480; October 1, 2002, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Four Sisters of Hofei, p. 297.
Guardian (London, England), February 15, 2003, Julia Lovell, review of Four Sisters of Hofei.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1988, review of Children of China: Voices from Recent Years, pp. 1024-1025; August 15, 2002, review of Four Sisters of Hofei, p. 1190.
Library Journal, September 15, 1988, Elizabeth A. Teo, review of Children of China, p. 88.
New Leader, November-December, 2002, Bei Ling, review of Four Sisters of Hofei, p. 34.
New York Times Book Review, January 15, 1989, Carol Verderese, review of Children of China, p. 23; December 8, 1996, Anthony C. Yu, review of The Chinese Century, p. 26; January 26, 2003, Derek Bickerton, review of Four Sisters of Hofei, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, September 9, 1996, review of The Chinese Century, p. 71; September 16, 2002, review of Four Sisters of Hofei, p. 56.
Time, May 1, 1989, Stefan Kanfer, review of Children of China.
Washington Post Book World, August 28, 1988, Robert Coles, review of Children of China, p. 7; December 13, 2002, Carolyn See, review of Four Sisters of Hofei.
A Gathering of the Tribes,http://www.tribes.org/ (September 12, 2004), Susan L. Yung, review of Four Sisters of Hofei.
Yale University, Department of History Web site,http://www.yale.edu/ (March 26, 2007), author profile.