Describes how table tennis was manipulated at the highest levels by the Chinese government to help it cover up human rights atrocities and again in 1971 when championship players were ordered to reach out to their American counterparts.
Examines how an aristocratic British spy circumvented more than 20 years of antagonistic foreign policy between China and the United States to further a fateful Communist agenda during the World Table Tennis Championships, revealing how players were tortured and murdered throughout the Cultural Revolution.
Traces the story of how an aristocratic British spy circumvented more than 20 years of antagonistic foreign policy between China and the United States to further a fateful Communist agenda during the World Table Tennis Championships, revealing how players were tortured and murdered throughout the Cultural Revolution.
Simon and Schuster
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.
the secret history behind the game that changed the world
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