In This Review
Reins of Liberation: An Entangled History of Mongolian Independence, Chinese Territoriality, and Great Power Hegemony, 1911-1950
The story of Mongolia, both Inner and Outer, has not received the attention that it probably deserves. As Liu demonstrates in great detail, it is a story that involves the geopolitical maneuverings of China, Russia, and Japan; struggles for independence and for domination over others; and the complex political and social changes that go along with transitions from traditional empires to modern nation-states. The idea of a sovereign Mongolia had complex repercussions for the Chinese, who wanted to claim some of the greatness associated with the historic Mongol conquests but also championed ethnic and racial identities when it came to Han chauvinism and assumed that the Mongolians should accept the leadership of the Han ethnic majority. The story became even more complex when the Russians introduced Bolshevism as a basis, considered superior to both ethnicity and territoriality, for drawing political boundaries.