Historian of modern China, cut off from his roots, who rued the rise of the military and the Communist conquest
The early life of the historian Jerome Ch’en, who has died aged 99, ran in parallel with the upheavals in modern China that he went on to document. Once dynastic rule collapsed after 1911, the warlord period (1916-28) was followed by the Japanese invasion (1931-45) and the civil war.
By the end of the civil war, in 1949, the Communist party was triumphant and Jerome was studying in London. He stayed abroad, and spent the rest of his life working out, as a historian, how it was that the decades he had lived in China had led to the Communist conquest. He pioneered the study of the Republic of China (1911-49), especially of the rise of the military and later of the Communists.