Chiang Kai-shek was the man who lost China to the Communists. As leader of the nationalist movement, the Kuomintang, Chiang established himself as head of the government in Nanking in 1928. Yet although he laid claim to power throughout the 1930s and was the only Chinese figure of sufficient stature to attend a conference with Churchill and Roosevelt during the Second World War, his desire for unity was always thwarted by threats on two fronts. Between them, the Japanese and the Communists succeeded in undermining Chiang's power-plays, and after Hiroshima it was Mao Zedong who ended up victorious. Brilliantly re-creating pre-Communist China in all its colour, danger and complexity, Jonathan Fenby's magisterial survey of this brave but unfulfilled life is destined to become the definitive account in the English language.