Michelle Kung
February 09, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

With its vivid biographical sketches and tense tales of political intrigue, Nixon and Mao, Margaret MacMillan’s account of Richard Nixon’s 1972 tour of Communist China, is as entertaining as it is informative. A natural storyteller, the author highlights details both quirky (Mao Tse-tung refused to use toilets!) and comical (Henry Kissinger disguised himself with a floppy hat and glasses for a secret pre-trip visit) without sacrificing sound history. Although the unprecedented East-West meeting didn’t resolve long-standing tensions, the trip remains the apex of the ”Nixinger” era and, as MacMillan articulately argues, a turning point in international relations.

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