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John Gittings was for many years chief foreign leader-writer and East Asia Editor at The Guardian, and is now on the editorial board of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace and a research associate of the Centre of Chinese Studies at the School of Oriental & African Studies. After working at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, he began reporting on China during the Cultural Revolution, and later covered major events such as the Beijing massacre and the Hong Kong handover. He has also written extensively on the politics of the cold war and was active in the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace. His last book was The Changing Face of China: From Mao to Market (2005), also published by Oxford University Press. His latest book, from which this material is excerpted, is The Glorious Art of Peace: From the Iliad to Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).