At the Edge of Empire

At the Edge of Empire

Edward Wong

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“This book’s power comes from Wong’s broad sense of the patterns of Chinese history, reflected in the lives of a father and son, and from his ability to toggle effortlessly between the epic and the intimate.” —Gal Beckerman, The Atlantic

“Edward Wong’s exquisite family chronicle achieves a level of humane illumination that only one of America’s finest reporters on China could deliver. In tracing his father’s journey—from Hong Kong to Xinjiang to America—Wong gives us a profound story of modern China itself. Anyone who once was absorbed by the power of Wild Swans will savor this meditation on memory, history, and belonging.” —Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition, winner of the National Book Award

One of Foreign Policy’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024

An epic story of modern China that weaves a riveting family memoir with vital reporting by the New York Times diplomatic correspondent


The son of Chinese immigrants in Washington, DC, Edward Wong grew up among family secrets. His father toiled in Chinese restaurants and rarely spoke of his native land or his years in the People’s Liberation Army under Mao. Yook Kearn Wong came of age during the Japanese occupation in World War II and the Communist revolution, when he fell under the spell of Mao’s promise of a powerful China. His astonishing journey as a soldier took him from Manchuria during the Korean War to Xinjiang on the Central Asian frontier. In 1962, disillusioned with the Communist Party, he made plans for a desperate escape to Hong Kong.

When Edward Wong became the Beijing bureau chief for The New York Times, he investigated his father’s mysterious past while assessing for himself the dream of a resurgent China. He met the citizens driving the nation’s astounding economic boom and global expansion—and grappling with the vortex of nationalistic rule under Xi Jinping, the most powerful leader since Mao. Following in his father’s footsteps, he witnessed ethnic struggles in Xinjiang and Tibet and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. And he had an insider’s view of the world’s two superpowers meeting at a perilous crossroads.

Wong tells a moving chronicle of a family and a nation that spans decades of momentous change and gives profound insight into a new authoritarian age transforming the world. A groundbreaking book, At the Edge of Empire is the essential work for understanding China today.

Product details

ISBN-13: 9781984877406

Number of pages: 464

Format: Hardback

Imprint: Viking

English en