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Rebel Island : The incredible history of Taiwan - Jonathan Clements

Rebel Island

The incredible history of Taiwan

By: Jonathan Clements

Hardcover | 3 April 2024

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The gripping history of Taiwan, from the flood myths of indigenous legend to its Asian Tiger economic miracle - and the renewed threat of invasion by China.

Once dismissed by the Kangxi Emperor as nothing but a 'ball of mud', Taiwan has a modern GDP larger than that of Sweden, in a land area smaller than Indiana. It is the last surviving enclave of the Republic of China, a lost colony of Japan, and claimed by Beijing as a rogue province - merely the latest chapters in its long history as a refuge for pirates, rebels, settlers, and outcasts.

Jonathan Clements examines the unique conditions of Taiwan's archaeology and indigenous history, and its days as a Dutch and Spanish trading post. He delves into its periods as an independent kingdom, Chinese province, and short-lived republic, and the transformations wrought by 50 years as part of the Japanese Empire. He examines the traumatic effects of its role as a lifeboat in 1949 for two million refugees from Communism, and the conflicts emerging after the suspension of four decades of martial law, as its people debate issues of self-determination, independence, and home rule.


'Rich with fascinating details, Jonathan Clements' Rebel Island is an engaging introduction to the complicated and astonishing history of Taiwan.'
-Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island

'Taiwan has become a stresspoint of global geopolitics, and Jonathan Clements has done the world a favour with his indispensable account of its complex history. This illuminating and endlessly fascinating book can't help but change the way we see the Taiwanese people and what they have built.'
-Clive Hamilton, author of Hidden Hand

'Rebel Island narrates the long arc of Taiwan's history in vivid prose and with admirable sensitivity to contemporary views regarding the island's politically charged past. Clements provides an even-handed treatment of controversies old and new, while engaging readers with revealing anecdotes and his trademark wit.'
-Paul D. Barclay, author of Kondo the Barbarian

About the Author

Jonathan Clements presented several seasons of Route Awakening (National Geographic), an award-winning TV series about Chinese history and culture. He is the author of many acclaimed books, including Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty, Confucius- a biography, and The Emperor's Feast- a history of China in twelve meals. He has written histories of both China and Japan, two countries that have, at some point, claimed Taiwan as their own. He was a visiting professor at Xi'an Jiaotong University from 2013 to 2019. He was born in the East of England and lives in Finland.
Industry Reviews
'Rich with fascinating details, Jonathan Clements' Rebel Island is an engaging introduction to the complicated and astonishing history of Taiwan.' -- Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island

'Taiwan has become a stresspoint of global geopolitics, and Jonathan Clements has done the world a favour with his indispensable account of its complex history. This illuminating and endlessly fascinating book can't help but change the way we see the Taiwanese people and what they have built.' -- Clive Hamilton, author of Hidden Hand

'Rebel Island narrates the long arc of Taiwan's history in vivid prose and with admirable sensitivity to contemporary views regarding the island's politically charged past. Clements provides an even-handed treatment of controversies old and new, while engaging readers with revealing anecdotes and his trademark wit.' -- Paul D. Barclay, author of Kondo the Barbarian

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