"This is the amazing drama of how Ping Pong changed the world. With great research and narrative skills, Griffin brings us behind the scenes of the historic trip by the American team to China in 1971 to tell what really happened and why. Plus he puts it into the context of Ping Pong's fascinating history of being more than just a game."
– Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
"Among the many quirks that make Mr. Griffin’s account so interesting is the culture clash that ensued. . . a broad diplomatic tableau with fascinating personal histories."
– Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Full of eyebrow-raising surprises…the book tells the secret history of Ping-Pong, a story of violence and intrigue and political machinations. Ping-Pong as a vehicle for international espionage? It’s an idea so outlandish that, if it weren’t true, some novelist would have to invent it. A remarkable story, well documented and excitingly told.”
– Booklist starred review
“Alfred Hitchcock would grab this book for a spy thriller. He himself makes an entry into the melodrama superbly plotted by Nick Griffin. The MacGuffin in this case are table tennis balls by the hundred, which mislead British intelligence in its surveillance of an apparently rather daffy British aristocrat. I happen to have known the aristo, Ivor Montagu, when I played in table tennis tournaments he organized in Europe. He fooled me, too. But then until Ping Pong Diplomacy came along, who’d guessed what he was up to as he moved among the marquee names—Trotsky and Charlie Chaplin, President Roosevelt and Sam Goldwyn, Mao and the Queen of England?”
– Sir Harold Evans author of My Paper Chase
“At last, here is the fascinating story of the sport that shaped the geopolitics today. Part character-driven history, part diplomatic caper, and part investigative pilgrimage to contemporary China, Ping Pong Diplomacy makes us look again at an event that Griffin reveals is the climax of a decades-long movement. This is narrative history at its best.”
– Michael Meyer, author of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed
“Ping-Pong Diplomacy is a deeply absorbing, suspenseful, and hilarious behind-the-scenes peek into a riveting slice of sports and political history. Nicholas Griffin has delivered an overhead smash. I love this book!”
– Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, and contributor to public radio’s This American Life
“A gripping read of the unlikely intertwining of table tennis as a sport with British and Soviet spycraft, and the high politics that broke China and the United States out of their Cold War confrontation. Anyone interested in the history of Sino-American normalization will find this literate and well documented history of “ping-pong diplomacy” filled with poignant examples of how the politics of Mao’s Cultural Revolution used and destroyed the lives of Chinese officials enamored with the play of the little white ball.”
– Richard H. Solomon, formerly a member of Henry Kissinger’s NSC staff, Assistant Secretary of State for Asia, and President of the US Institute of Peace
“Ping-Pong Diplomacy belongs in the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up.’ It reads more like a le Carré novel than diplomatic history. But the tale it recounts actually happened, and casts a new and provocative light on the U.S. Opening to China, one of the great foreign policy breakthroughs of the 20th century.”
– Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of A New World Order and The Idea That Is America
“Griffin has found an intriguing story with which to illuminate several important political events of the later 20th century and told it well."
– Publishers Weekly
“A quirky, thoroughly enjoyable trek through the implausible beginnings of international table tennis and the colorful characters-cum-diplomats behind it. Griffin has the dexterity and cleverness to take on the story…[and] maintain lively interest in the array of personalities involved.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Impossible to resist…full of colorful characters.”
“Off-beat and engrossing.... Griffin tells human stories as deftly as he describes the machinations of international communism…a fitting treatment of the entire overlooked episode.”
– Boston Globe
“A stranger-than-fiction tale….Through meticulous research and an impressively-crafted narrative, Griffin gives depth to the life of the “the forgotten architect” of so-called ping-pong diplomacy.”
– The Independent (UK)
"Meticulously researched and ambitiously conceived... a scrupulous meditation on how eccentricities of time and place can shape big political and social events".
– The London Times
"An absorbing tale…this book is full of fast-paced narratives and well-crafted characters."
– The Washington Post
"A racy account of the matches themselves and of the endless maneuvers behind them.”
– Wall Street Journal
“A jolly romp through the 20th century . . . a series of events that might bedeemed too outlandish for the sensible reader, were they not entirely true.”
"Ping Pong Diplomacy is terrific from first line to last."
"Reads so much like a thriller that you have to keep reminding yourself that it is all fact ... a book of meticulous archival research and reportage."
– Indian Express (Mumbai/Delhi)
“A fascinating account … revealing and well-researched … It is to Griffin’s credit that in this book he has finally nailed … the crucial event that initiated Ping-Pong diplomacy.”
– The New York Review of Books
“Fascinating … tales of grit and tenacity, manipulation and deception. In his deeply-researched and fast-paced narrative, reading in parts almost like fiction, Griffin brings to life the redoubtable Ivor Montagu and others who transformed the innocuous game with the little bouncy white ball into a potent instrument of international politics.”
– The Hindu (India)
"An informative and entertaining book ... Griffin shows that the Chinese were controlling the game all along. In both ping-pong and diplomacy, the Americans were woefully outmatched."
– Los Angeles Review of Books