When Routledge first invited me to put together a book of my writings for its new Critical Asian Scholarship series, I was both flattered and hesitant. Flattered, because the initial group of invitees was very small and (as I soon discovered) included such esteemed scholars as Patricia Ebrey and the late George Kahin. Hesitant, in part, because it would mean an interruption of the work I was then (and am still) engaged in on the problem of national humiliation in twentieth-century China, and also, in part, because preparing such a volume would inevitably mean confronting certain intellectual issues that had for some time been a nagging source of unease in my work. As I began to think about what to include in such a book and how, in an introductory essay, I might address and work through the issues just alluded to, the unease gradually abated and I became increasingly enthusiastic about the multiple challenges the project offered.
Two people who were particularly important in moving me forward in this process were Mark Selden and Elizabeth Sinn. Having had as a mentor in graduate school John Fairbank, whose gifts as a nurturer of successful manuscripts were legendary, I held Mark Selden, the editor of the Critical Asian Scholarship series, to an impossibly high standard. Mark, doing the impossible, met this standard at every step of the way. As an experienced volume editor, he exercised exceptionally good judgment in helping me decide what to include (and not include) in the book. His detailed comments on all of the chapters, save the three (Chapters 1, 2, and 7) that had been previously published in English and that I was unwilling to change except in regard to mechanical matters (such as converting the romanization of Chinese names and terms from Wade-Giles to pinyin), were unfailingly constructive, all the more remarkable because his specific interests and starting point for approaching history tend (with some exceptions) to be quite different from mine. Mark’s comments covered everything from style and word choice to weaknesses or illogicalities in my argument to bibliographical lacunae. He pushed me especially hard on the introductory essay, which he rightly judged to be critical to the success of the volume as a whole. The finished piece benefited greatly from his many specific suggestions, insightfulness, and tireless prodding.