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Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World (Anglais) Relié – 7 janvier 2014

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"This is the amazing drama of how Ping Pong changed the world. With great research and narrative skills, Griffin brings us behind the scenes of the historic trip by the American team to China in 1971 to tell what really happened and why. Plus he puts it into the context of Ping Pong's fascinating history of being more than just a game." (Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs)

"Among the many quirks that make Mr. Griffin’s account so interesting is the culture clash that ensued. . . a broad diplomatic tableau with fascinating personal histories." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

“Full of eyebrow-raising surprises…the book tells the secret history of Ping-Pong, a story of violence and intrigue and political machinations. Ping-Pong as a vehicle for international espionage? It’s an idea so outlandish that, if it weren’t true, some novelist would have to invent it. A remarkable story, well documented and excitingly told.” (Booklist starred review)

“Alfred Hitchcock would grab this book for a spy thriller. He himself makes an entry into the melodrama superbly plotted by Nick Griffin. The MacGuffin in this case are table tennis balls by the hundred, which mislead British intelligence in its surveillance of an apparently rather daffy British aristocrat. I happen to have known the aristo, Ivor Montagu, when I played in table tennis tournaments he organized in Europe. He fooled me, too. But then until Ping Pong Diplomacy came along, who’d guessed what he was up to as he moved among the marquee names—Trotsky and Charlie Chaplin, President Roosevelt and Sam Goldwyn, Mao and the Queen of England?” (Sir Harold Evans author of My Paper Chase)

“At last, here is the fascinating story of the sport that shaped the geopolitics today. Part character-driven history, part diplomatic caper, and part investigative pilgrimage to contemporary China, Ping Pong Diplomacy makes us look again at an event that Griffin reveals is the climax of a decades-long movement. This is narrative history at its best.” (Michael Meyer, author of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed)

Ping-Pong Diplomacy is a deeply absorbing, suspenseful, and hilarious behind-the-scenes peek into a riveting slice of sports and political history. Nicholas Griffin has delivered an overhead smash. I love this book!” (Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, and contributor to public radio’s This American Life)

“A gripping read of the unlikely intertwining of table tennis as a sport with British and Soviet spycraft, and the high politics that broke China and the United States out of their Cold War confrontation. Anyone interested in the history of Sino-American normalization will find this literate and well documented history of “ping-pong diplomacy” filled with poignant examples of how the politics of Mao’s Cultural Revolution used and destroyed the lives of Chinese officials enamored with the play of the little white ball.” (Richard H. Solomon, formerly a member of Henry Kissinger’s NSC staff, Assistant Secretary of State for Asia, and President of the US Institute of Peace)

Ping-Pong Diplomacy belongs in the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up.’ It reads more like a le Carré novel than diplomatic history. But the tale it recounts actually happened, and casts a new and provocative light on the U.S. Opening to China, one of the great foreign policy breakthroughs of the 20th century.” (Anne-Marie Slaughter author of A New World Order and The Idea That Is America)

“Griffin has found an intriguing story with which to illuminate several important political events of the later 20th century and told it well." (Publishers Weekly)

“A quirky, thoroughly enjoyable trek through the implausible beginnings of international table tennis and the colorful characters-cum-diplomats behind it. Griffin has the dexterity and cleverness to take on the story…[and] maintain lively interest in the array of personalities involved.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Impossible to resist…full of colorful characters.” (Grantland)

“Off-beat and engrossing.... Griffin tells human stories as deftly as he describes the machinations of international communism…a fitting treatment of the entire overlooked episode.” (Boston Globe)

“A stranger-than-fiction tale….Through meticulous research and an impressively-crafted narrative, Griffin gives depth to the life of the “the forgotten architect” of so-called ping-pong diplomacy.” (The Independent (UK))

"Meticulously researched and ambitiously conceived... a scrupulous meditation on how eccentricities of time and place can shape big political and social events". (The London Times)

"An absorbing tale…this book is full of fast-paced narratives and well-crafted characters." (The Washington Post)

"A racy account of the matches themselves and of the endless maneuvers behind them.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A jolly romp through the 20th century . . . a series of events that might bedeemed too outlandish for the sensible reader, were they not entirely true.” (Maclean's)

"Ping Pong Diplomacy is terrific from first line to last." (SmartPlanet)

"Reads so much like a thriller that you have to keep reminding yourself that it is all fact ... a book of meticulous archival research and reportage." (Indian Express (Mumbai/Delhi))

“A fascinating account … revealing and well-researched … It is to Griffin’s credit that in this book he has finally nailed … the crucial event that initiated Ping-Pong diplomacy.” (The New York Review of Books)

“Fascinating … tales of grit and tenacity, manipulation and deception. In his deeply-researched and fast-paced narrative, reading in parts almost like fiction, Griffin brings to life the redoubtable Ivor Montagu and others who transformed the innocuous game with the little bouncy white ball into a potent instrument of international politics.” (The Hindu (India))

"An informative and entertaining book ... Griffin shows that the Chinese were controlling the game all along. In both ping-pong and diplomacy, the Americans were woefully outmatched." (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Présentation de l'éditeur

THE SPRING OF 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente—achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players. The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it “Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial inter­section of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power.

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Amazon.com: 27 commentaires
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Art of Nicholas Griffin 13 mars 2014
Par Miha Ahronovitz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
The Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World has three parts: The West, The East and East meets West. Amazon says this is a book about geopolitics and spying. My reading: this is a book about extraordinary people that all Griffin books bring to light.

It follows the life of The Honorable Ivor Goldsmid Samuel Montagu, the third son of the 2nd Baron Swaythling, one of the richest man in England. He is the only British aristocrat to receive the Lenin Prize (the communist equivalent to Nobel Prize) for Peace. He created the game of Table Tennis, which he leveraged in communist China, and he was an agent for the Soviet secret service called GRU.

Marcel Proust wrote "the people from bygone ages seem infinitely remote from us. We look at them as animals in a zoo."
We can see a photograph of Ivor Montagu. He looks remote, other worldly as if he was a character in the Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris coming back from the 1920s every day at midnight. A British movie web site describes Ivor as a "producer, writer and director. Communist, aristocrat, son of the banker Lord Swaythling, the Hon. Ivor Montagu was a leading fixture in left-wing film activity in the 1930s."

In Griffin's book, Ivor Montagu comes out of the metaphoric Proustian zoo of the past. Ivor brother, Ewen, was "a rugby player obsessed with breeding cows... good at pretty everything." But Ivor himself "had the desire, but not the talent to be involved." There was only one game he could play, table tennis. Ping Pong was a Cinderella of the sports blossoming around 1904 in Britain. Quoting Griffin:

"Ninety years ago, Montagu revived a sport that really did fit the best and worst of Communism. It was suited for airless, cramped factories, it was humanistic and competitive, it kept the brain engaged and exercised as much as the body. Table tennis became, as Montagu wrote, "a weapon for peace."

He married Eileen Hellstern. "She was known to all as Hell. From his parents' perspective, Montagu couldn't have made a worse choice. Hell was a divorced mother of one, the daughter of a maker of surgical shoes. Her mother had been institutionalized shortly after her father's death."

For Ivor's father, Lord Swaythling, Montagu's marriage was "an irredeemable calamity.". He changed his will, and the Queen send a note to Ivor's mother: "Gladys I feel for you. May."

The newlyweds "made the front pages of all the London papers. "BARON'S SON WEDS SECRETARY," roared London's Evening Standard. For a week, they were on the run from the press, using makeup and a wardrobe department borrowed from Montagu's film contacts."

As many times before and after Ivor Montagu marriage, both parents and society proved to be wrong. Their marriage lasted a lifetime. Ivor and Hell died within two week from each other fifty years later.

Ivor was a member of the British Communist party and an agent of the Comintern. Shielded by his privileged status, he could afford to be a spy.

In any other country in the world, including US - particularly during McCarthy era - Ivor would have been persecuted. But not in Britain. Ivor was not a criminal.

Leon Trotsky, one of the fathers of the revolution and founder of the Red Army, had faced off against Stalin for control of Soviet Russia and lost. "Trotsky was protected twenty-four hours a day in exile by Turkish police officers.

Trotsky lived in constant fear of assassination by Stalin, yet Ivor Montagu, a secret Stalinist at the beck and call of the Kremlin, was staying in his house. Trotsky ended their late evening by passing Montagu a loaded revolver and telling him to put it under his pillow. Montagu was many things, but not a killer. He barely slept, "terrified that the gun would go off."

Trotsky fear was real. He will be assassinated with an ice pick in Mexico a few years later. The killer was a Stalinist agent, just like Ivor, but a totally different breed.

The review in New York Review of Books by the distinguished Harvard and Oxford professor Roderick MacFarquhar sums up with this sentence

"It is to Griffin's credit that in this book he has finally nailed that misconception of the encounter in Nagoya 1971, the crucial event that initiated Ping-Pong diplomacy"

Nagoya is the Japanese city where the World Table Tennis Championships took place in 1971. The Chinese ping-pong team was brutally destroyed during the Cultural revolution, a few years earlier.

".. the rumor circulated that the Chinese men's team, which had total dominance in the sport, had been paraded in front of tens of thousands of Chairman Mao's Red Guards. They had been screamed at, spat at, locked up, and tortured. They had been shot as spies. They had been strung up on trees by a vast teenage mob. As their dead bodies twirled back and forth at the ends of ropes, the cadavers came to rest with their bulbous eyes turned toward Taiwan or Hong Kong--a sure sign that they weren't faithful followers of Chairman Mao but traitors to Chinese Communism. It was nearly impossible to believe, yet the rumor was rooted in truth."

The top Chinese tennis table star, Zhuang Zedong managed to survive. He must have been an attractive man, Mao's third and much younger wife (Jiang Qing) took him under her protection. She was part of the Gang of Four who terrorized China as older Mao became more senile. Jiang Qing ruled in the name of Mao. After Mao's death, Jiang Qing fell in disgrace and while in solitary confinement, developed throat cancer. She hanged herself. Zhuang Zedong was rehabilitated four years after the death of Mao. He died of cancer last year in 2013

But in 1971, what looked as a chance encounter in Nagoya, was a well prepared event. Griffin quoted Henry Kissinger: "A remarkable gift of the Chinese is to make the meticulously planned appear spontaneous."

Griffin intuition lead to writing this book. He discovered sports are ideal instrument for politics and diplomacy. He wrote an article before the World Soccer Cup in South Africa. where the Afrikaans elite played rugby and cricket, not soccer. Nelson Mandela was a soccer fan and so was most native and English speaking population.

The US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (BECA) in the State Department is home to Sports United, a program that sends American athletes on international cultural exchange missions. It also welcomes foreign athletes to the United States.

The definition of sport for Griffin perhaps includes being an explorer. His books "Caucasus: Caucasus: Mountain Men and Holy Wars and Before the Swarm (Kindle Single) are about lands and jungles and ants and eccentric scientists, that Griffin takes them out of the Proustian zoo to give them vivid portraits of people, as if we, the readers, knew them in person.

His books are painstakingly researched, in library and in face to face meetings. The Ping Pong Diplomacy took four years to complete. There is no replacement for the talent of a writer when processing information. We are not perfect, we make mistakes. We dream, we aspire, we pray, we love, we hate but after all, nothing is black or white. This is the gold Nicholas Griffin extracts from the world around

Nicholas Griffin books will reach exponentially more people if his books, - and in particular the Ping-Pong diplomacy - are made into a TV miniseries suitable for channel like PBS, HBO, BBC, History Channel. The transformation from book to film is natural for this book.

I watched the program A Book Discussion on Ping-Pong Diplomacy on BookTV. Someone in the audience asked him, "Why he didn't you fictionalize this book, because you wrote fiction before?"

Griffin responded: "Because I would have not been able to sell it. No one would have had believed me. The reality is too preposterous I wouldn't be able to invent a character as Ivor Montagu."

Maybe a fiction book is no longer an option, but a movie production, based on a true story is not at all preposterous. Having major stars, a successful director, it can reach audiences around the world that a non-fiction book alone simply cannot.

Books and films may be looked as products that catch people attention, desires and form habits. However artists' mind works differently. Some people will not understand why Griffin has chosen Ivor Montagu to begin with. Most probably he ignored a future public and was driven by his own intuition. We are glad he did.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A great read to start off the year 8 janvier 2014
Par Adriana Cisneros - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I’m not quite sure where to begin. This is a story about geopolitics, espionage and table tennis. It wanders from England to Japan, Russia to China and is bound together by the biography of a British aristocrat who produced Hitchcock’s films who happened to be a spy for Stalin. It leads up to the events of 1971 when China and America heal their rift after 22 years of silence. There are hippies, atom bomb survivors, ping-pong playing generals and revolutionaries dotting the pages. Got that? And no, even though the writer has written a lot of fiction, this one’s all true. Definitely the most entertaining, yet serious book I’ve read in a while. What’s it really about? Oh, I’d say it’s really about world peace.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Learn about sport that played an important role in the global relation of political forces in 20th century 22 janvier 2014
Par Helpful Advice - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
“Ping-Pong Diplomacy” by Nicholas Griffin is a story about a sport that has become many other things besides just an ordinary sporting competition – table tennis aka Ping-Pong has become a link between the West and the East, but at the same time a fierce clash with rackets instead of guns.

In his book Griffin presents less known details about this popular sport that united communist and capitalist world while describing many manipulations and cover-ups which with the help or thanks to this sport were made.
Some of them can be seen at the same time tragic like Chinese authorities cover-up of almost 40 million their people starvation with organization of World Table Tennis Championships but in same time historically very important because this tennis table event was reason for President Nixon to visit China after which it was created the term Ping-Pong.

The book particularly discussed in detail the role of one specific person, Ivor Goldsmid Samuel Montagu, a man who lived incredible life of filmmaker, writer, table tennis player and communist spy, who was a founder of the International Table Tennis Federation and man that can be credited China is today a country with the best table tennis players.

Another nation plays also an important role in this book - the Japanese who due to this sport after humiliation and severe destruction that they have experienced at the end of the Second World War received an opportunity to become again an important player in international relations.

This book gives the reader a chance to get to know a handful of incredible characters, making it sometimes entertaining like reading a fiction, instead of sometimes sad and tragic faction – officers obsessed with table tennis, spies, Japanese WWII survivors, determined presidents and many others…

Therefore, Ping-Pong Diplomacy” by Nicholas Griffin for me was a big surprise because it shows how one at first glance insignificant sport played an important role in the global relation of political forces in 20th century; due to that fact, this interesting and nicely written work can certainly be recommended to those who like to read history.
But sports literature fans as well which is really unusual combination.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Absorbing and Entertaining 7 janvier 2014
Par Newton Munnow - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
If you think of the relationship between the USA and China as key in today’s world, then maybe it’s worth giving the beginning of that relationship a closer look. And what Griffin finds is fascinating. The spontaneous meeting of a pair of ping-pong players that led to ‘Ping-Ping Diplomacy’ and Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1971 wasn’t so spontaneous after all. In fact, it turns out the Chinese preparation was incredibly meticulous and that most Americans, including those in our own State Department, had little idea of what was going on. Who knew that the guy in charge of table tennis’s International Federation was a British aristocrat who just happened to be a Communist spy? I guess Joe McCarthy missed that one.

The book borders on the absurd, which is what makes it so much fun because this is all true. Griffin traces the game back through its strange beginnings, how it arrived in China, how the Chinese start using it as a political tool to cover the Great Famine, how it barely survives the Cultural Revolution (and how some of the top players didn't survive). The book builds to where ping-pong is finally deployed against America for everyone's mutual benefit. It’s history at it quirkiest but also, at one of his most pivotal moments.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
High Stakes Table Tennis 23 juillet 2014
Par William Capodanno - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This was an eminently engaging and fun read about the confluence of ping pong and world diplomacy mixed with a bit of cold war spying. In "Ping Pong Diplomacy", Griffin peels back the proverbial onion to provide deeper historical context behind the rise of ping pong across the world, driven by an enterprising and wealthy upper class Brit, Ivor Montagu, and in particular in China. As the Chinese communists embrace the sport and see sport through the lens of politics, it ultimately plays a pivotal part in restoring diplomatic relations between US and China through Nixon's historic visit 1972. While the writing could be a little uneven at times, this was an interesting read with great context on the intersection of table tennis, politics and East meets West.
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