"China in Our Time provides an absorbing history of the Middle Kingdom's traumatic last three decades... a rich autobiographical account of an intellectual's wrestling with the most populous country in the world... this is an elegantly written, engaging and knowledgeable book, which reads as if one were having a casual dinner conversation with the author at a corner table of a Beijing duck house."

“Deserves high praise. Terrill is an extremely perceptive writer”


"Mr. Terrill is interesting in his study of China's possible
future policies ... , accurate forecasting."
The Diplomatist

"A first-rate study of post-Mao China."
- Pacific Affairs

“Ross Terrill has done two important things with The Future of
China" He has written a book that is both important and enjoyable
to read.”
- Chicago Sun-Times

" Terrill, author of 800,000,000: The Real China, shows
brilliantly where China may go and why .. "
- Publishers Weekly

"As a writer of popular, serious books on contemporary China, Terrill is still ahead of the field."
- Kirkus Reviews

"A readable, entertaining account of current affairs
in China.”
- Library Journal

MAN on the BALCONY: Diary of a Contradictory Life
will be my next book. Below, as a sample, are the first entries from
a half-century ago.

1957, Melbourne University, Australia
My political science teacher, McMahon Ball, served as British Commonwealth representative on the Allied Council for Japan after 1945. While in Tokyo, he dealt with God-on-Earth Douglas McArthur. This made my quiet teacher wary of brash Americans.

Mac disliked anyone calling him “Professor Ball.” It had to be “Professor McMahon Ball.” Each time Mac (as we call him) saw McArthur, the general would say, “Well, Ball, what can I do for you?” McMahon Ball felt the American general took him for granted as a mere Australian. Still, he tells us in lectures he considers the post-War occupation of Japan a big success. His stories about Tokyo open our eyes.

Looking at Asia, Ball juggles nationalism and communism. He sees Mao’s China as a rebuke to the West - Communism with patriotic support. In his Nationalism and Communism in Southeast Asia, required reading in our class, Ball says the future of many Asian countries will be determined by whether Chinese blending of nationalism with Marxism is successful. He warns the West, including Australia, not to push Indonesia and other Southeast Asia countries into the arms of Peking by resisting their nationalism.

March, 1958, Carlton, Australia
Our Soviet Union politics class is taught by a Communist, who comes from a Methodist family. This week for our essay we have to apply Lenin’s theory of imperialism to a recent event in 20th century history, chosen by each of us. When I enter this Soviet specialist’s orderly office I can smell the glue from binding of Stalin’s writings on shelves behind his chair. But I’m immunized against Marxist faith by Christianity; I have my religion already. In the student ranks of the Labor Party (to which I belong), we know what is (our) social democracy and what is (the CP’s) Marxism. Yet this Communist teacher, neat and courteous in a jacket and tie, is the politest man in the Political Science department.

Since Khrushchev’s speech last year attacking Stalin, we watch Communist friends on campus squirm or leave “the Party.” I am reading Marx and Engels, but also Milovan Djilas’s The New Class, a Yugoslav’s attack on Stalinism. We social democrats keep our distance from communism. We mock Australian Communists, trying to catch up with fashion by splitting into two Communist parties (Chinese and Russian), as Mao and Khrushchev insult each other.

1958, Puckapunyal, Australia
A “birthday ballot” has landed me in a dusty outpost of the Australian army. The mayor of Melbourne stood before a barrel containing 365 marbles and drew them out one by one until the army had the needed recruits. My birth date came out early.

Dressed in khakis, I shoot an outmoded 303 rifle. In the Melbourne University Regiment, as my unit is called, our officers, who fought in the Korean War, tell stories about Asian soldiers. I realize North Koreans and Chinese fight madly for their ideology and interests. My officers make racist remarks about both.

Back in Melbourne, the Labor Party makes me choose between membership in its ranks and agitation against “White Australia” immigration policy. I receive a letter giving me thirty days to decide. The widely-read Sydney magazine The Bulletin still carries on its masthead the motto: “AUSTRALIA FOR THE WHITE MAN.”

1959, Carlton
Heading toward graduation, we politics and history students are making a fresh start on Asia. We did not witness Japanese atrocities against Australians in the 1940s, like our parents. Our classmates include thousands of students, many part-Chinese, from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong. We are the first Australians to sit in class with Asians. This diversity is not threatening to me, but exciting.

1960, Bombay, India
The influence of Professor Ball lands me in India. For “Mac” and other graduates of the London School of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru and Krishna Menon of India are heroes. A non-alignment movement with these two Indians in the lead, also Premier Zhou Enlai of China and others, was born in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. Shining brightly among Melbourne academics, “Bandung spirit” also binds Egypt, and Burma. Ball studied in London and like many Bandung supporters, reads the British left-wing New Statesman.

China and India impinge as the dominant countries in our region. Mac Ball proffers them as alternative paths for the Afro-Asian world. India is building democracy while upholding the non-aligned Bandung spirit. China is part of the Soviet bloc, in Moscow’s grip on ideology, while pretending to share the Bandung spirit.

As the first Australian participant in the pompously-named Experiment in International Living, I start in teeming Bombay and go to Delhi, Poona, and Agra. In Melbourne I wrote in my required answers to questions from India: “I am 21 years of age and 6’ 1.” I am a student of history and politics at Melbourne University. My leisure activities are dramatic art and playing the piano. During the holidays I take temporary jobs in factories and shops. I really want to seize this opportunity of going to India. As to my future, I am not yet certain of my calling…”

They wrote a welcome letter that ended with a utopian motto: “Nation with Nation, Land with Land, Unarmed shall Live, as Comrades Free. In every Heart and Brain shall Throb, The Pulse of one Eternity.”

1960, Delhi
In this beautiful capital I hear stories of China-India border clashes. Rivalry between the pair seems inevitable. While I’m here, Premier Zhou Enlai visits Delhi and his talks with Nehru, seeking to ease tensions, are discussed in the Indian household I stay in. This family, and its neighbors, are wary of China.

1960, On board S.S. Fairsky from Bombay
I feel Hindu moralism gives depth to Indian culture, but assumes a too-noble view of human nature. By comparison with China’s land reform, the “Land Gift Movement” of Vinoba Bhave, a visionary rural leader known to my host family in Bombay, seems a Band-Aid to make the donor feel good.

As we sail toward Aden, I write suggestions for future “Experimenters,” required by my sponsors. I say of Indian eating habits: “You will not normally be served meat, fish, eggs or cooked vegetables. Birds and beasts are significant religiously, as I discovered in a Bombay restaurant when a sparrow flew in, unmolested by the waiters, to share my meal.”

“I have to add India is rather disorganized. The universities, especially in the north,” says my Report to the Australian Union of Students, “are on the verge of chaos, the teachers in despair and the students in revolt.”

I see after my two-month stay that India as well as China is going to shape the global future. “Which other country,” says my report, “has had visits from Khrushchev, Zhou Enlai, Eisenhower and Macmillan in one year, as India has in 1960?”

Professor Ball and other teachers in Melbourne lionize India as the democratic path. But I wonder if China’s authoritarian path may be more effective. I feel a rising desire to see Peking. Would love to be able to compare China and India.

1961, Melbourne
Fetching the daily newspaper and bottles of milk at the gate of my family’s suburban house, I find writing in white-paint letters with arrows pointing from the words into our gateway. “TRAITOR,” it said. “ROSS TERRILL IS A NATIONAL PERIL.” My throat tightens. I am active in a student group against racism and a few days ago wrote a letter in the main Melbourne newspaper, The Age. My letter began: “It is a source of satisfaction that the attitude of superiority towards non-white races is losing ground in Australia.” The white-painted insults are my reward. “TERRILL WANTS BLACKS TO STAB WHITES IN THE BACKS,” the message on the pavement continued, probably using “black” as a term to cover all non-whites. My parents are scared of the neighbors. In Melbourne these days, I hear rumors that opium is given to children, and Chinese chefs are cooking our Australian cats for their dumplings.

At present Europeans can get their fares paid to immigrate to Australia, but Asians or Africans can’t. My Asian student friends have to promise, in order to come, not to have a child while completing their studies in Australia. In the ALP (Australian Labor Party) Club we are criticizing both political parties, since the Labor Party, based on the unions, is even guiltier of white supremacy than the right-wing side of politics. One farmer cousin thinks I’m crazy.

San Francisco, 9/​14/​1963
I fly from Melbourne to San Francisco, to join a Christian student program. On board, I read the Carnets of Camus. These notebooks dwell on awareness, a central theme for Christians. We’re supposed to love unconditionally. My friend Peter Garrett says in our Australian magazine Crux that a free man is one who knows he is loved. Prayer is a door to a Beyond that exists in the midst of life.
Princeton, Fall, 1963
I feel shock encountering American society: money-crazed, practical, insular yet dynamic, practical yet wildly vibrant, friendly but violent. Rich. yet it seems 38 million out of 200 million live without money for nec¬essities. If you fall in the great race for wealth here, no one stops to pick you up. So I am told. I was excited by the Negro communities in SF and Chicago. Everyone talks about a racial revolution, but haven’t they had a revolution already?

November 22, 1963, Princeton
During lunch in a Nassau Street restaurant with students of Princeton University, many talking about Cuba, a woman beside me grabbed my arm, a finger to her lips. "Blood was visible on the President's face" said the TV screen. "He has been taken to Parkland Hospital.” We knew President Kennedy was in Dallas that morning. Now, TV said someone had shot him in the head.

“It is not known whether he is dead or alive," a shaky voice on the TV screen whispers. Horror froze us in our chairs. A waitress fainted, and her tray clattered to the floor. Another girl carrying soup vomited.

Short of nuclear war, I did not think anything could bring the shock at this moment. The grandeur of public life, undone by three bullets. The leader of the Western World in a hospital bed, death hovering, his blood-splattered wife of 34 years at his side. She had cried out, "Oh no, my God, they’ve killed my husband" as pandemonium followed the attack, Glamor had given way to chaos. Supreme power became supreme affliction.

Across Nassau Street, on Princeton’s campus, students clustered around transistor radios. At the student center, heads rested on folded arms at cafeteria tables.

From Washington an official croaked, “President Kennedy is dead.” Helpless, some brimming with anger, others weeping, the Student Center rose for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

One TV anchor groped for context by recalling that three other US presidents – Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley - had been murdered in office.

During the grey, timeless afternoon, churches opened, bells tinkled, organs began to play. The Princeton library prepared to close, as did most businesses.

A few of us political science students looked at each other with fresh eyes, seeing not "scientists” in the making but bewildered citizens. Never had "political science" seemed such an odd phrase.

One professor concluded with no evidence, “The ugly veins of hatred in the South have conquered a man who stood for rationality in politics.” Brand new to the USA, I marveled that guns could be bought more or less by post.

In the evening I ask myself what the next act of world-shaking criminality might be. In an age of H-bombs that seems alarming. Has the Bomb brought us to the end of the road?

Any Christian or social democrat (I am both) must feel the spiritual world and the working-class world are both without direction. Our God is too small, a god-of-the-gaps. First the geologists evicted God from their realm. Then the biologists did. Now the social scientists. We don’t after all know what it means that “all things cohere in Jesus Christ.”

November 25, 1963, Washington
Two Australians and I drive almost in silence for The Funeral. We stand two blocks from the Catholic Cathedral, where the crowds in black are like a flock of birds. In wintry gloom, towering over the kings, prime ministers, and presidents was lofty, ramrod straight President Charles de Gaulle, striding nobly, almost as if in personal denial of death. JFK is no more.


"MADAM MAO" (New Word City)



Ross's first E-Book title with

The explosive biography “"Madame Mao" has just been published as an E-book by Price $9.99.

One of Ross’s most popular books, The-Australians: The Way We Live Now
is now available in Kindle for $9.99


I. Books
Wo yu Zhongguo ("Myself and China"), China Renmin University Press, Beijing (2011)

The New Chinese Empire, Basic Books, New York (2003), paperback, 2004. Chinese edition, Ars Longa, Taipei (2004). Australian edition, University of New South Wales Press (2003). Estonian edition (2006).Korean edition, CFE Seoul (2006).

The Australians: The Way We Live Now, Random House, Sydney (2000).

China in Our Time, Simon & Schuster (1992), Touchstone paperback, 1993. Revised, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Chinese edition (Silk Road, Taipei). Excerpted in Newsweek, World Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe.

The Australians, Simon & Schuster (1987), Touchstone paperback (1988). British edition (Bantam), Japanese edition (Jiji). Excerpted in l'Actualité (Montreal), Sawasdee (Bangkok), Straits Times (Singapore), Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Adelaide Advertiser, Northern Territory News.

The White Boned Demon: A Biography of Madame Mao Zedong, William Morrow (1984), Bantam paperback, 1985. Touchstone edition (revised and updated), 1992. Revised as Madame Mao, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Revised as Madame Mao, Stanford University Press (1999). British edition (Heinemann), French edition (Ramsay), Indonesian edition, Spanish edition (Vergara), Chinese edition (Hebei renmin chubanshe), Italian edition (Frassinelli). Excerpted in Paris Match, Elle (Paris), Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Melbourne Age, Zhong Gong Wen Ti (Taipei), Adelaide Advertiser, Kodansha Company (Tokyo), Zhuanji wenxue (Taipei). Optioned, with renewal, by Richard and Esther Shapiro on behalf of 20th Century Fox for TV mini series.

Mao: A Biography, Harper & Row (1980). Colophon paperback, 1981, 1984. Library of Great Lives edition, Easton Press, 1991. Revised and expanded edition, Touchstone 1993. Revised, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Revised and expanded, Stanford University Press (2000). Also British, German, Italian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Chinese editions. (Excerpted in Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, etc.). Revised Chinese edition, People’s University Press (2006).

The Future of China: After Mao, Dell (1978); Delta paperback, 1978. Also British, French, Japanese, Singapore, Swedish, Indian, and Australian editions (all 1979). (Excerpted in Book Digest, Atlantida, etc.)

Flowers on an Iron Tree: Five Cities of China, Little Brown (1975); British edition 1976. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, Geo of Germany, National Times of Australia.)

Socialism as Fellowship: R. H. Tawney and His Times, Harvard University Press (1973), Harvard paperback (1975); British edition 1974, Harvard paperback 1975. (Excerpted in Dissent and Journal of the International Congress of University Adult Education, April, 1974.)

800,000,000: The Real China, Little Brown (1972), Delta paperback, (1972), Laurel edition (1973). Also Japanese, German, Chinese, Norwegian, British editions, 1972; Penguin 1975. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, London Observer, Bulletin (Australia), Foreign Service Journal, Problemes Sociaux et Politiques of France, Bungei Shunju of Japan, Sondags/​BT of Denmark, etc.)

Chinese (Taiwan ) Edition

Bestselling Chinese Edition

Polish Edition


Extremely readable."
-Wall Street Journal

"A biography for reading .... As an academic popularizer of today’s China, Terrill is without equal."
-Washington Star

"There is not likely to be a book iike this-for a long time to come."
-Professor Edward Friedman

"Magnificent.... Must be read."
-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Terrill's book is consistently sprightly ... and he is full of wry or amusing observations and quotations. as well as brisk value judgments ."
-Jonathan Spence, Chicago Tribune

"A major and enduring contribution to the classic literature on
the Chinese Revolution."
- Theodore H. White

"A captivating biography that humanizes Mao in a remarkable way... The reader is treated to a colorful look at China.”
- Christian Science Monitor

"This new, well documented book is indispensable to understanding the relationship between Mao and events in China over the last half century. What's more, it's fascinating reading."
-Chicago Sun• Times

"Ross Terrill has brought Mao back to life in a biography that is earthy, compelling and eye-opening."
-U.S.-China Review

"Terrill’s fine eye for detail brings the physical presence of Mao directly into the reader's view."
- The New Republic

"If you want to understand what happened in China in the last 40 years, this is the one book you have to read."
"What Top Executives Are Reading," Business Week

"Ross Terrill, probably this country's preeminent writer on China, has accomplished a major feat in this biography ....He has given us a whole man to replace the two-dimensional representation of flat-faced peasant on poster and TV screen."
-Boston Globe

"Mao: A Biography is a magnificent work, as elegant as Chinese calligraphy, as cunning as Chinese aphorisms."


China in Our Time
"China in Our Time provides an absorbing history of the Middle Kingdom's traumatic last three decades... a rich autobiographical account of an intellectual's wrestling with the most populous country in the world... this is an elegantly written, engaging and knowledgeable book, which reads as if one were having a casual dinner conversation with the author at a corner table of a Beijing duck house."
- Nicholas Kristof in New York Times Book Review


This uncommonly fine book is personal history.. His story is not only a vivid account of the darker realities roiling beneath Chinese Communist rhetoric. It is also the story of [Terrill]'s own growing perception of the tyranny that Maoism represented...
- Richard Marius in Harvard Magazine

China in Our Time is an elegantly written book that is both personal and incisive.
- Seattle Times

China in Our Time provides an absorbing history of the Middle Kingdom's traumatic last three decades...For anyone wishing to learn more about the odyssey and plight over the last few decades of one-fifth of humanity, this is a terrific introduction.
- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Book Review

In this splendid work, Ross Terrill bas brilliantly captured the complexities of modern China, the leaders, the people, and the events better than anyone has ever done.
- Doris Kearns Goodwin

China in Our Time is an incisive and timely depiction of China's evolution over the last quarter century, illuminated by Ross Terrill's many journeys through China and his considerable literary talent..” - Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize

A riveting account...of four decades of Communist rule. Balanced, thoughtful, and impressive for Terrill's candid criticism of his own approach and for his mastery of the telling detail.
- Kirkus Reviews

This gripping account of a 28-year pilgrimage in search of China is beautifully written, deeply honest, and rich in insights. Ross Terrill's experiences mesh with China's convulsions so magically that the tangled story of Confucian Leninism is something we can all, thanks to his artist's eye and unmistakable authority, begin to grasp.
- James C. Thomson Jr., former White House aide

Ross Terrill has a rare ability to "seize the hour," to place himself in China at the moments of high drama. He arrived in Beijing a few hours before Tiananmen and his account of the bloody turmoil is one of the best and most dramatic. He got into China in 1964, well before the Cultural Revolution and beat Nixon and Kissinger to Beijing by more than a year. His memoir provides an attractive series of vignettes which illuminates China's recent past.
- Harrison Salisbury, author of The New Emperors

“I can think of no better source to prepare us to understand the next chapter in the long, gyrating saga of the Middle Kingdom.
- Chicago Tribune

"Ross Terrill first visited China in 1964 when it was still terra incognito to almost all Americans, and he he was there 25 years later, on June 4, 1989, when the Tiananmen massacre took place. In between he acted as an informal channel between the Chinese and two governments, and also produced some of the most important Western writing on China. In this perceptive, thoughtful, and sometimes moving book, he sums up his own experiences and those of China. Anyone who is interested in the Middle Kingdom will want to read China in Our Time.
- Richard Holbrooke, Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

"As an exiled student from Tiananmen Square, I think Ross Terrill has done a great job of weaving historical fact with personalized descriptions that provide unique insight into China's dramatic contemporary history and the recent Tiananmen tragedy. China in Our Time is a hard book to put down. For those who desire a more intimate view of China, it cannot be missed.
- Shen Tong, author of Almost a Revolution

"[Terrill]'s qualities as acute observer and graceful writer are undiminished. His new book provides a very good sense of where China is now, and even some sense of where it may be going...His concluding chapters, which deal with Tiananmen, are absolutely wonderful, vividly capturing the drama of the events, and somehow eliciting fresh outrage as they are read. They are perhaps the best short account we have. The voices of ordinary people...are heard here on nearly every page."
- Arthur Waldron in The National Interest

"A first-rate piece of work on a fascinating subject."
- Henry Kissinger

"Engaging...Throughout the years of turmoil in Mao's China, Terrill had a ringside seat...One ends the book grateful to have watched the Chinese political opera with a seasoned buff who from time to time slips away and reappears on stage."
- Christian Science Monitor

"Terrill...combines a journalist's eye for detail with solid academic training. He can thus tell an entrancing story and make a compelling case. China in Our Time is part historical narrative and part personal memoir. Terrill's experiences in China mesh beautifully with many of the most significant events in the history of the People's Republic. [His] eyewitness account of the June 4 massacre is one of the most powerful and horrifying records of the event I have ever read or expect to see. The most impressive feature of Terrill's book is the human face it gives to China.
With the same steady hand and personal touch that produced his highly acclaimed biographies of Mao and Mao's infamous wife, Jiang Qing, Terrill provides sketches of less exalted but no less interesting people...
- Houston Chronicle

"In this book Terrill masterfully tells the story of the forty-year history of the People's Republic, weaving into it his personal biography and evolution as a China specialist. In many ways China in Our Time is a supplementary, if not a corrective history of the many China books Terrill has written in the last two decades. His review of the last forty years from the perspective of 1992 is illuminating, especially to those who have read his earlier volumes.
- China News Update

“Terrill’s account of the [1989] Tiananmen Square massacre is the finest, I think, that we have in English, as well as the best dozen pages Terrill has ever written.
- Free China Review

“Terrill demonstrates his expertise in this
richly informative account”
- Publisher's Weekly,

"A riveting account...Balanced, thoughtful, and
impressive for Terrill's mastery of the telling
- Kirkus Reviews


"This is an altogether splendid book. It is lucid, erudite without
condescension and courageous in spirit ... The New Chinese empire
should be read by anyone who plans to deal seriously with China over
the next decade."
- Far Eastern Economic Review

"Terrill has extensive knowledge of Chinese history that he imparts
with graceful style and in fascinating detail ... "
- Foreign Affairs

"Terrill has produced another engaging book, and anyone interested
in China, especially the relationship between the US and China, would
do well to study it."
- The Christian Science Monitor

"Insightful predictions and critical yet astute observations." - Booklist
"To long-standing China-watcher and journalist Ross Terrill's credit,
he reminds us in his new book The New Chinese Empire: 'Repeatedly,
American and other officials, commentators, and scholars skip over
the fundamentals of the authoritarian Chinese state.'"
- Weekly Standard

"Outstanding ... Ross Terrill's The New Chinese Empire puts the U.S.China
relationship into the vast context of China's millennia-old
imperial Weltanschauung and the strategic thought it has
- Journal of International Security Affairs

"This book helps explain, better than anything written for decades,
why China's rulers today behave the way they do ... [it] is a fresh,
analytical retelling of Chinese history that adds immeasurably to
today's 'Whither China?' debate."
- National Review

"Although no one can predict what will take place, by looking at
China's past, Terrill has provided an excellent road map for
understanding its future." - Business Week

"Terrill is a well-regarded journalist and scholar who has been
reporting on Chinese affairs for nearly 40 years. In 'The New Chinese
Empire,' he provides an accessible and plausible critique of
contemporary China."
- Los Angeles Times

"I hope that Terrill's book will find a place on State Department
reading Iists ... He masterfully describes the full nature of Chinese
ambitions, their deep historical roots, and the coming developments
that will thwart them ... many keen insights and memorable phrases."
- The American Enterprise

"Mr. Terrill has written a fascinating book, filled with historical lore
and contemporary observations, about the Red Dragon."
- Washington Times

1972 Bestseller

800,000,000: The Real China, Little Brown (1972), Delta paperback, (1972), Laurel edition (1973). Also Japanese, German, Chinese, Norwegian, British editions, 1972; Penguin 1975. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, London Observer, Bulletin (Australia), Foreign Service Journal, Problemes Sociaux et Politiques of France, Bungei Shunju of Japan, Sondags/​​BT of Denmark, etc.)

"By far the finest account so far of life in the land of Mao"
- Time

“Deserves high praise. Terrill is an extremely perceptive writer”
- Washington Post

“One of the best pieces of contemporary American journalism...No Harvard professor ought to write so colorfully or entertainingly.”
- Christian Science Monitor

“The best piece of reporting from China since the late 1940s”
- John Fairbank

British edition

Mao and Deng eras laid bare through Terrill's lens
The most respected biography of Mao's wife in any language

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