John King Fairbank Books & Biography
John K. Fairbank and his wife, Wilma Fairbank, got their first impressions of Chinese life by living in Peking for four years in the early 1930s. In 1936 he began to develop instruction and research on Modern China at Harvard University. During World War II he spent the five years 1941 to 1946 in Washington and in China in government service. After he resumed teaching, his first book, The United States and China, in 1948 reflected his impressions of the revolutionary ferment among the Chinese people. (The fourth edition of this book, revised and updated, was published by Harvard University Press in 1983.)
Professor Fairbank was one of the small number of Americans whose pioneer work in Modern Chinese History gave necessary shape to the field. Surveys and more specialized courses of lectures, syllabi and bibliographies for use in research seminars, conferences on major topics leading to publication of symposia, all contributed to M.A. and Ph.D. training that launched many of today's professors of Chinese history on their careers.
This development also involved the organization of national committees and conferences to meet the many problems of Chinese studies in America. Professor Fairbank has been president of the Association for Asian Studies and of the American Historical Association and has received numerous honorary degrees. He and his wife live according to the season in New Hampshire and in Cambridge, Mass.