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Would you like some Ping Pong Diplomacy?

26 October, 2017 20:30:00
Would you like some Ping Pong Diplomacy?

The Spring of 1971 brought the greatest geo-political realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved towards a détente --- instigated not by politicians, but by ping pong players.

Ping Pong Diplomacy proves that the dramatic shift can be traced back to Ivor Montagu, the son of a wealthy English baron, producer to Alfred Hitchcock, friend of HG Wells, Charlie Chaplin and Leon Trotsky, codifier of table tennis and a spy for the Soviet Union as chairman of the games’ international federation, Montagu had hoped that table tennis would help spread communism around the world. With this help, the game was established as China’s National Sport. And quickly became a cog in Maozedong’s foreign policy. Griffin unravels the strange story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how Mao used it to help cover up the death of millions during the great famine; how championship players were condemned and tortured during the cultural revolution; and finally how survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts. Through a cast of eccentric characters, from the King of England, to spies, hippies, ping pong obsessed generals and atom bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected British sport instigated a realignment of world super powers.     

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