Fairbank, John K.

Fairbank, John K. (King)

(1907–91) historian; born in Huron, S.D. After graduating from Harvard he spent six years traveling in China, teaching himself Chinese in order to read the country's 19th-century archives. He taught at Harvard (1936–77), where he developed a pioneering modern East Asian history program with his colleague Edwin O. Reischauer and directed (1955–73) the East Asian Research Center. Fairbank created the field of modern Chinese history and became the dean of American Chinese scholars. A target of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist hearings in the 1950s, he went on to become a leading advocate of normalizing relations with communist China in the 1960s. His more than two dozen books include The United States and China (1948) and China: A New History (1992).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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