Jonathan Mirsky

Crossing the Net

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: Ivor Montagu and the Astonishing Story Behind the Game That Changed the World


Simon & Schuster 336pp £20 order from our bookshop

In April 1972, just after Nixon’s breakthrough conversations with Mao Zedong, 12 academics with an interest in the Chairman – of whom I was one – were invited to China. We knew that the meeting had been made possible by the encounters between the American and Chinese ping-pong teams the year before. Although what happened in 1971 at the world ping-pong championships in Japan, where the first invitation to the Americans to visit China was extended, is known already, Nicholas Griffin’s narrative – though shaky on a few of the details on the Chinese side – is a worthy contribution to our understanding of this spectacular event in Chinese–US relations.

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