Dancing on Bones
History and Power in China, Russia and North Korea
Reviews and Awards
"Dancing on Bones is a compelling testament to the power of history and myth in global politics. Fast-paced and insightful, Stallard's book skillfully unfolds the narratives that legitimize and drive the leaders of China, Russia, and North Korea. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how America's competitors think." -- Peter Martin, author of China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy
"When I first arrived in England some thirty years ago, I was surprised to find that the history of the People's Republic of China, as taught at Oxford, was quite different from what we were taught at school. This book helped me to better understand why and how authoritarian leaders want to control the history of their nations. Interweaving interviews and personal stories of those challenging the official narrative and fighting for the right to preserve individual memory, this book delivers a powerful antidote to the stereotypes and caricatures that so often dominate coverage of these countries. Deeply reported and drawing on extensive research, the result is a nuanced and compelling account that sheds light on these consequential global powers." -- Lijia Zhang, author of Lotus and Socialism is Great!
"Through impeccable research and exhaustive reporting, Katie Stallard details how three modern-day autocrats have co-opted and corrupted-and often outright fabricated-history in their efforts to stay in power and try to gain the upper geopolitical hand. To understand how Putin, Xi, and Kim operate in the present, Stallard expertly shows how they are weaponizing the past. Essential reading." -- Anna Fifield, author of The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un and former Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post
"A beguiling and disturbing journey into how a new generation of authoritarian leaders distort the past to dominate the present. A powerful mix of reportage and analysis." -- Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University
"An engaging account of how leaders in China, Russia and North Korea and remolded, re-tooled and retrofitted postwar history to turn it into an unforgiving bulwark of support for today's regimes. Its value lies not just in illuminating how this happened, but why it matters for the rest of the world, as the powerful and aggrieved nationalism constructed on this new historical foundation spills out into the rest of the world." -- Richard McGregor, author of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers