Feigon, Lee (Nathan) 1945-
FEIGON, Lee (Nathan) 1945-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "fay-gun;" born September 13, 1945, in Tampa, FL; son of Gershon J. (a food company executive) and Ethel (a psychologist; maiden name, Stern) Feigon; married Leanne Star (a college instructor), August 18, 1974; children: Maia, Brooke (daughter). Education: University of California—Berkeley, A.B., 1967; University of Chicago, M.A., 1971; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D., 1977.
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of East Asian Studies, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901.
CAREER: East Asian studies scholar. Colby College, Waterville, ME, professor of history, 1976—, director of East Asian studies, 1978—.
China Rising: The Meaning of Tiananmen, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1990.
Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1996.
Mao: A Reinterpretation, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Lee Feigon's China Rising: The Meaning of Tiananmen is a first-hand account of the student uprising and massacre of 1989. Feigon, a professor of East Asian studies, was living in Beijing at the time. He also studies earlier student movements in Chinese history and assesses their value and outcomes.
Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows is about the land most often associated with Shangri-la, the Himalayas, and the Dalai Lama, one that is broad in scope and includes a study of the Chinese claim to the land that is larger than Europe and which China invaded decades earlier. He shows that Tibet has its own culture and heritage and studies these, as well as its history, geology, religion, customs, and politics. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the volume "a fine account."
Booklist's Donna Seaman noted that Demystifying Tibet is valuable on many levels, not only for its documentation of how the Chinese are damaging the Tibetan culture, but also because it shows how they are damaging the area's ecosystem, "which is crucial to the health of the planet."
In Mao: A Reinterpretation, Feigon's emphasis is on Mao Zedong as a caring man, although history shows that the leader who created the People's Republic of China in 1949 was responsible for movements that resulted in the deaths of millions of people. Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor noted that because Feigon is impressed with the cultural, educational, and economic achievements of Mao, he "is less concerned about the death tolls of Mao's movements."
Barrett L. McCormick reviewed the volume in Pacific Affairs, saying that Feigon "finds the earlier Mao like Stalin in various ways, but qualifies his criticism" and claims that "in contrast to Stalin's lethal tactics in inner party politics, Mao was a consensual leader." McCormick noted that Feigon "has high praise for the ostensibly anti-Stalinist Mao of later years," but felt that Feigon makes the same case for Mao that Stalin apologists make, in minimizing costs and shifting blame. "Feigon concludes by calling Mao a socialist hero for a post-socialist age," wrote McCormick. "But what is a post-socialist age? The revolutionaries of 1989 told us that socialism could no longer be rescued by locating an alternative to Stalin." Library Journal's Peggy Spitzer Christoff wrote that Feigon "develops innovative ideas about how to understand the man's life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1996, Donna Seaman, review of Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows, p. 781; September 15, 2002, Gilbert Taylor, review of Mao: A Reinterpretation, p. 197.
Business Week, June 11, 1990, Dori Jones Yang, review of China Rising: The Meaning of Tiananmen, p. 10.
Commonweal, August 10, 1990, Nicholas R. Clifford, review of China Rising, p. 463.
Far Eastern Economic Review, October 10, 1996, review of Demystifying Tibet, p. 58.
Foreign Affairs, fall, 1990, Donald S. Zagoria, review of China Rising, p. 197.
Journal of Asian Studies, August, 1991, David Strand, review of China Rising, p. 660.
Library Journal, May 1, 1990, Steven I. Levine, review of China Rising, p. 100; October 15, 2002, Peggy Spitzer Christoff, review of Mao, p. 80.
Pacific Affairs, winter, 1991, Lowell Dittmer, review of China Rising, p. 529; fall, 2003, Barrett L. McCormick, review of Mao, p. 459.
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 1991, Allen S. Whiting, review of China Rising, p. 130.
Publishers Weekly, April 13, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of China Rising, p. 51; November 13, 1995, review of Demystifying Tibet, p. 53; September 15, 2002, review of Mao, p. 197.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1996, review of Demystifying Tibet, p. 102.
Washington Post Book World, March 31, 1996, review of Demystifying Tibet, p. 13.*