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ChinaFile Presents: The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao

A discussion with Ian Johnson and Ian Buruma

NEW YORK, April 13, 2017 — Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ian Johnson discusses his new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao with Ian Buruma and Orville Schell. The event was cohosted by ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books. (1 hr., 9 min.)

At a moment when observers of contemporary China devote their attention to the country’s fast-changing economy and politics, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ian Johnson has spent much of the past decade immersing himself in a transformation of a very different sort: China’s massive spiritual revival. Following a century of attacks on religious life, a country once held together by tradition and ritual is again teaming with temples, mosques, cults, sects, holy mountains pilgrims, fortunetellers, and politicians trying to harness them.

ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books are pleased to cohost the launch of Johnson’s forthcoming book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, with a discussion moderated by Ian Buruma.


Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who works out of Beijing and Berlin, where he also teaches and advises academic journals and think tanks. Johnson has spent more than half of the past thirty years in the Greater China region, first as a student in Beijing from 1984 to 1985, and then in Taipei from 1986 to 1988. He later worked as a newspaper correspondent in China with Baltimore’s The Sun and The Wall Street Journal. From 2001 to 2009, he served as the Journal’s Berlin bureau chief. In 2009, Johnson returned to China, where he writes features and essays for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and other publications. In addition to winning a Pulitzer for his coverage of China, Johnson is also the recipient of Stanford University’s Shorenstein Journalism Award for his body of work covering Asia. He is the author of Wild Grass (2004) and A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West (2011), and he has contributed chapters to My First Trip to China (2011), Chinese Characters (2012), and the Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (2016). 

Ian Buruma is a journalist, writer, and academic. He is the Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College. Buruma spent much of his early writing career reporting from all around Asia. He now writes about politics and culture for a variety of major publications, including The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Corriere della Sera, The Financial Times, and The Guardian. He has been the Cultural Editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong (1983-86) and Foreign Editor of The Spectator, London (1990-91). He is the author of more than two dozen books, including, most recently, Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War.

Introduction: Susan Jakes is Editor of ChinaFile and Senior Fellow at Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. 

The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao will be available for sale and book signing at the event, and can be purchased through the Asia Store website.


Watch a video about Ian Johnson's forthcoming book:


Co-hosted by:





Event Details

Thu 13 Apr 2017
6:30pm - 8:00pm

725 Park Ave.
Asia Society
New York, NY 10021

$8 Members; $10 Students/Seniors; $12 Nonmembers
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