Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal

Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal

""Contemporary Chinese Studies" series" series

by Patrick Fuliang Shan
  • academic
  • biography
  • history-politics-current-affairs

Statesman or warlord? Yuan Shikai (1859–1916) has been hailed as China’s George Washington for his key role in the country’s transition from empire to republic. In any list of significant modern Chinese figures, he stands in the first rank. Yet Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal sheds new light on the equally controversial history of this talented administrator, fearsome general, and enthusiastic modernizer.

After toppling the last emperor of China, Yuan endeavoured to build dictatorial power and establish his own dynasty while serving as the first president of the new republic, eventually declaring himself emperor. Ever since his death during the civil war his actions provoked, he has been condemned as a counterrevolutionary, and much Chinese historiography portrays Yuan as a traitor, a usurper, and a villain. Patrick Fuliang Shan offers a wide-ranging analysis of the man’s complex part in shaping modern China. He develops a fresh account of Yuan’s life and career that introduces unique insights and challenges long-held stereotypes. Just a single biography of Yuan has been published in English in the past hundred years.

Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal rectifies that remarkable dearth, drawing on previously untapped primary sources and recent scholarship to posit a lucid, comprehensive, and critical new interpretation of this multifaceted figure.


Patrick Fuliang Shan, author

Patrick Fuliang Shan is a professor of history at Grand Valley State University, where he teaches Chinese history, East Asian history, and world history. He was president of the Chinese Historians in the United States from 2009 to 2011, a board member of the Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China from 2010 to 2014, and the coordinator of the East Asian Studies Program at Grand Valley State University from 2013 to 2016.


  • Patrick Shan’s balanced, comprehensive, and analytical study of Yuan Shikai presents a complete portrait of this bewilderingly controversial leader. - Xiaobing Li, professor, Department of History, University of Central Oklahoma
  • This book is the most detailed and refreshing account of Yuan Shikai ever published. Drawing on a wide array of source materials, it sheds new light on political changes in the formative era of the modern Chinese state. - Huaiyin Li, professor of history, University of Texas at Austin

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: UBC Press

email: coates@ubcpress.ca

website: http://www.ubcpress.ca/

rights available: World, excl. English and North America

Additional Information

number of pages: 350

publication date: 09/03/2018

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: complete manuscript