Rebel Island


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About the Author

Jonathan Clements presented several seasons of Route Awakening (National Geographic), an award-winning TV series about Chinese history and culture. He is the author of many acclaimed books, including Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty, Confucius- a biography, and The Emperor's Feast- a history of China in twelve meals. He has written histories of both China and Japan, two countries that have, at some point, claimed Taiwan as their own. He was a visiting professor at Xi'an Jiaotong University from 2013 to 2019. He was born in the East of England and lives in Finland.


‘Clements’s pacy and engaging account offers a valuable counterpoint to today’s news coverage of Taiwan. Rebel Island offers a compelling portrait of a perennially fragmented place, subject across centuries to a succession of claims on its territory, resources and identity — of which Xi’s is but the latest.’
*The Telegraph*

‘A concise journey through the island’s complex history and all the different ethnicities, refugees, mavericks, and nationalities that have come together to make modern Taiwan.’
*The Sunday Times, 'Five essential books about Taiwan’*

‘Excellent ... Clements’s brisk narrative is related with style and brio and an appropriate amount of caution, given the various competing narratives surrounding the island’s history, and he draws on an impressive trove of documentation, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, and western. The result is a splendid portrait of the layers of identity and resistance in what is no less a settler society than the United States, Australia, or Argentina.’
*The Irish Times*

‘With great uncertainty in the region, Clements brings readers up to speed on the history of this incredible Rebel Island.’
*The Australian*

‘Rich with fascinating details, Jonathan Clements’ Rebel Island is an engaging introduction to the complicated and astonishing history of Taiwan.’
*Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island*

‘Taiwan has become a stresspoint of global geopolitics, and Jonathan Clements has done the world a favour with his indispensable account of its complex history. This illuminating and endlessly fascinating book can’t help but change the way we see the Taiwanese people and what they have built.’
*Clive Hamilton, author of Hidden Hand*

‘Rebel Island narrates the long arc of Taiwan’s history in vivid prose and with admirable sensitivity to contemporary views regarding the island’s politically charged past. Clements provides an even-handed treatment of controversies old and new, while engaging readers with revealing anecdotes and his trademark wit.’
*Paul D. Barclay, author of Kondo the Barbarian*

‘Riveting history [with] something in it for everyone — even old Taiwan hands.’
*Taipei Times*

‘A concise journey through the island’s complex history and all the different ethnicities, refugees, mavericks, and nationalities that have come together to make modern Taiwan.’
*Ramona Magazine*

Praise for The Emperor’s Feast: ‘This is a splendid introduction to the cooking and history of China, filled with surprising details on the origins of many famous dishes.’
*The Guardian*

Praise for The Emperor’s Feast: ‘Running through Clements’ account is an insistence — smartly and subtly offered, and particularly welcome in our present straits — on the role food plays in binding family and friends together.’
*The Telegraph*

Praise for The Emperor’s Feast: ‘Clements marshals his sources in a deft and approachable manner, leavening the complexities of history with folklore, and spicing up his narrative with piquant anecdotes.’

Praise for A Brief History of Japan: ‘Perfect for travelers or students … A wonderfully fun, interesting, and informative introduction to Japanese history. Clements blends culture, politics, military, economics … all with a wit and humour that carry the narrative forward and make it real.’
*Mark Zachary Taylor, author of The Politics of Innovation*

Praise for A Short History of Beijing: ‘Jonathan Clements evocatively captures the contradictions and complexities of contemporary Beijing while rooting the city in its broader historical context …’
*Times Literary Supplement*

Praise for A Short History of Beijing: ‘A must-read … Accessible and concise, this whirlwind history of China’s capital city is gripping and amusing.’
*Sunday Express*

Praise for A Short History of Beijing: ‘Clements makes an admirable job of disentangling truth from elaboration, finding historical foundations in much of the folklore … a commendable introduction to Beijing.’
*Japan Times*

Praise for Japan at War in the Pacific: ‘This is a fascinating historical tour of one of the world’s great cities, exploring Tokyo’s long past with an eye to its present form and its bustling contemporary population. Clements digs deep into place names, and into the wider context of Japan’s long history, to offer an account that visitors to Tokyo — whether first-timers or old regulars — will no doubt find invaluable in helping them to make sense of a city that can sometimes feel overwhelming in its size and vibrant complexity.’
*Chris Harding, author of Japan Story*

Praise for Wu: ‘Clements’ skilful narrative leaves it to the reader to decide whether Wu was a tyrant or a dutiful stateswoman ... illuminating and enjoyable.’
*Publishers Weekly*

Praise for Wu: ‘Clements tells the story of Wu with a light but informed touch.’
*Literary Review*

Praise for Wu: ‘Astonishing.’
*The Lady*

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