Tan Authors Book on Chinese Power Development During Revolution and War

tan book Assistant Professor of History Ying Jia Tan authored a new book titled Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882-1955, already available as an e-book and soon to be available in hardcover, beginning Oct. 15. The work, published by Cornell University Press, explores Chinese power consumption and electrical development throughout seventy-three years of war and revolution.

According to the book’s abstract:

Tan traces this history from the textile-factory power shortages of the late Qing, through the struggle over China’s electrical industries during its civil war, to the 1937 Japanese invasion that robbed China of 97 percent of its generative capacity.

Along the way, he demonstrates that power industries became an integral part of the nation’s military-industrial complex, showing how competing regimes asserted economic sovereignty through the nationalization of electricity. Based on a wide range of published records, engineering reports, and archival collections in China, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, Recharging China in War and Revolution, 1882-1955 argues that, even in times of peace, the Chinese economy operated as though still at war, constructing power systems that met immediate demands but sacrificed efficiency and longevity.

At Wesleyan, Tan’s research primarily focuses on the history of energy development in China. He studies this subject in relation to environmental history, technology, and cartography. This semester, Tan is teaching HIST 223: Traditional China: Eco-Civilization and Its Discontents and HIST 362: Issues in Contemporary Historiography.