Roderick MacFarquhar reviews Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan, in the New York Review of Books:
“This was the week that changed the world” was Richard Nixon’s summing up at the end of his trip to China in February 1972. The hyperbole was justified, for this visit to China by an American president was a turning point in the cold war. Hitherto, the Soviet Union and China had been antagonists of the US. Thereafter, both Beijing and Moscow found it in their interest to come to agreements with Washington. For the Chinese it meant coming in from the cold. After the announcement of the visit in July 1971, the US effort to keep China out of the UN lost credibility: the People’s Republic of China replaced the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Security Council that October; the US was unable even to keep Taiwan in the General Assembly. Member states that had loyally voted with the US began transferring diplomatic recognition from the Nationalist government in Taiwan to the Communist regime in Beijing.