Graham Hutchings writes in his new book China 1949 that “historians have often used a single year as a prism through which to view key changes that are said to have shaped an era”. He goes on to observe (somewhat counterintuitively) that of the years of China’s Civil War from 1945 to 1949, “… the year 1949 seems to have been singled out less often as decisive …” Hutchings seeks to balance the scales of history and to establish 1949 as such a prism.