James L. Sellers Professor of History Profile Image
James L. Sellers Professor of History History pcoble1@unl.edu 402-472-2414 622 Oldfather Hall


Parks Coble is the James S. Sellers Professor of History, having joined the department in August 1976. He teaches surveys of general East Asian history, covering China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and specialized courses on modern China and Japan.

Parks Coble's research field is 20th century China with special emphasis on the political history of Republican China (1911-1949), the history of Chinese business in the 20th century, and Sino-Japanese interactions. Recent publications have included a study of Chinese businessmen living in occupied China during World War II, and of the anti-Japanese movement in China in the 1930s. His current project examines the collapse of the Chiang Kai-shek government in China in 1949 by analyzing the tragic consequences of hyperinflation in China during the period from 1944 until 1949. The Japanese conquest of East China had isolated the Chiang stronghold in the interior and left the Chinese government with few financial resources. Chiang chose to simply print money which lead to disastrous consequences. After Japanese surrender there was no “peace dividend” so the erosion of the currency simply accelerated. New archival sources permit an in depth analysis of the decision making process within Chiang’s government.


Graduate Readings seminar in the history of Republican China
Graduate Readings seminar on World War II on the Asian Mainland
Graduate Research seminar on modern East Asia
Traditional China to 1800
Traditional Japan to 1800
Modern Japan since 1800
Modern East Asia East Asian Civilization
Social and economic history of China since the late Ming era
Early Modern China, 1600-1900
Twentieth Century China
World History

  • The Collapse of Nationalist China: How Chiang Kai-shek Lost China’s Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).
  • Shanghai ziben jia yu guomin zhengfu, 1927-1937. 上海资本家与国民政府, translator  蔡静议. Beijing: Shijie tushu chuban she, 2015. Authorized Chinese edition of The Shanghai Capitalists and the Nationalist Government, 1927-1937.
  • China's War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan   (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015).
  • Zouxiang “zuihou guantou”: Zhongguo minzu guojia goujian zhong de Riben yinsu (1931-1937). Translated by Ma Junya. Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chuban she, 2004. Authorized Chinese edition of Facing Japan with a new preface.
  • Chinese Capitalists in Japan's New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937-1945 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
  • Facing Japan: Chinese Politics and Japanese Imperialism, 1931-1937, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard East Asian Monograph Series, 1991).
  • The Shanghai Capitalists and the Nationalist Government, 1927-1937, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard East Asian Monograph Series, 1980); second revised edition with new preface, in paperback, Harvard, 1986.
  • Zhejiang caifa yu minguo zhengfu, 1927-1937, a translation of The Shanghai Capitalists and the Nationalist Government was published in 1988 by Nankai University Press, People's Republic of China. An alternate translation, Shanghai ziben jia yu guomin zhengfu, translated by Yang Ximeng, was also published in 1988 by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

  • 宋子文与抗战时期的上海资本家, 1937-1945 (T. V. Soong and the Shanghai capitalists during the war of resistance, 1937-1945), trans. by Xu Ang, in Wu Jingping, ed. 宋氏家族与近代中国的变迁 (The Soong Family and the Development of Modern China; Shanghai:Dongfang chuban zhongxin, 2015), pp. 151-164.
  • “Zhou Zuomin and the Jincheng Bank,” in Sherman G. Cochran, ed., The Capitalist Dilemma in China’s Communist Revolution (Ithaca, New York: Cornell East Asian Series, 2014),pp.151-74. 
  • “The Decision to Go to War, July-August, 1937,” in Debating War in China, editor Peter Lorge, Leiden: Brill, 2013.
  • “Writing About Atrocity: Wartime Accounts and their Contemporary Uses,” Modern Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 2 (2011), pp. 379-398.
  • “The Legacy of China’s Wartime Reporting, 1937-1945: Can the Past Serve the Present?” Modern China, vol. 36, no. 4 (July 2010), pp. 435-460.
  • “The National Salvation Movement and Social Networks in Republican Shanghai,” in Nara Dillon and Jean C. Oi, eds., At the Crossroads of Empires: Middlemen, Social Networks and State-Building in Republican Shanghai Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), pp. 110-30.
  • “China’s `New Remembering’ of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance, 1937-1945.” The China Quarterly, (no. 190), July 2007, pp. 394-410, to be reprinted in Caroline Rose, ed., Sino-Japanese Relations: Critical Concepts, Routledge, forthcoming 2011.
  • Introduction to the 2006 reprint edition, Theodore H. White, The Mountain Road, Norwalk, Connecticut, Eastbridge, 2006, original New York: W. Sloan Associates, 1958.
  • “The Song Family and Chinese Capitalists,” in Madame Chiang Kaishek and Her China, Samuel C. Chu, ed. (Norwalk: EastBridge, 2005), pp. 69-79.
  • “Is China Going Capitalist? The Debate Over Admitting Private Entrepreneurs to Membership in the Chinese Communist Party” in Studies on Asia, Series II, vol. 2, no. 1 (Spring 2005), a refereed e-journal published by the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs
  • “Chinese Capitalists in Wartime Shanghai, 1937-1945: A Case Study of the Rong Family Enterprises,” in In the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Shanghai Under Japanese Occupation, edited by Christian Henriot and Wen-hsin Yeh, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 46-65.
  • “Zhou Zuomin yu Jincheng yinhang, 1937-1949" (Zhou Zuomin and the Jincheng Bank, 1937-1949) in Qiye fanzhan zhong di zhiu bianqian (Institutional change in Chinese business history), edited by Zhang Zhongmin and Lu Xinglong, (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue yuan, 2003), pp. 221-234.
  • “Chinese Bankers in the Crossfire, 1937-1945,” in China Reconstructs, edited by Cindy Yik-yi Chu and Ricardo Mak (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003), pp. 161-178.
  • "Japan's New Order and the Shanghai Capitalists: Conflict and Collaboration, 1937-45" in Chinese Collaboration with Japan, 1932-1945: The Limits of Accommodation, edited by David P. Barrett and Larry N. Shyu, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 135-155.
  • James L. Sellers Professor of History, 2007 and continuing
  • Travel Grant, Stanford University East Asian Library, April 2015
  • Fellow, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, September-December 2006, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Faculty Development Leave, January-June 2006
  • University of Nebraska, Outstanding Research and Creativity Award, April 2005
  • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (USA), travel grant, for travel to Taipei, December 2004, for the IAHA Conference at Academia Sinica
  • Faculty Development Leave, January-June 1999, spent in residence at the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University
  • “The Historical Roots of Shanghai’s Modern Miracle,” an invited lecture at Weber State University, March 2013, sponsored by the Hemingway Foundation.
  • “Understanding World War II in East Asia: Patterns of Wartime Mobility,” at the Department of History Colloquium, Louisiana State University, October 26, 2012, an invited lecture.
  • “War Correspondents and the Fear of Collaborators during the War of Resistance Against Japan,” at the International Conference on Modern Chinese Society in Global Perspective and on "Chiang Kai-shek and Modern China, 1840-1949," jointly held by the Center for Chiang Kai-shek and Modern Chinese History of Zhejiang University and the Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China, Hangzhou, China, June 2012.
  • “Understanding China’s War against Japan, 1937-1945,” at the Asian Conference on Cultural Studies, Osaka, Japan, June 2012.
  • “Trauma and Displacement in Wartime China, 1937-1945: The Experience of Wartime Mobility,” an invited lecture delivered at the Institute for Chinese Studies Cultures in Contact Series at The Ohio State University, May 11, 2012.
  • “The Shadow of War: Decisions by Chinese Capitalists to Remain in the PRC in 1949,” Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, March 2012, Toronto, Ontario.
  • “China at War, 1937-1945: Remembering the War of Resistance,” World History Association, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China, July 2011.
  • “Trauma and Displacement in Wartime China, 1937-1945,” January 2011, American Historical Association Conference, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • “Writing About the Unspeakable: Chinese Wartime Accounts of Japanese Atrocities in China,” at the Chinese Military History Society Conference, May 2010 at VMI.
  • “Trauma and Displacement in Wartime China, 1937-1945: As Seen Through the Wartime Reporting of Fan Changjiang,” at the Historical Society for Twentieth Century China, bi- annual meeting, June 2010, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia.
  • “Trauma and Displacement in Wartime China, 1937-1945,” at the workshop, “Wartime Economy and Culture in Chinese Daily Life, 1937-1949,” at the University of California at Berkeley, November 2009, an invited presentation.
  • “Zhou Zuomin and the Jincheng Bank,” at “The Capitalists Dilemma in China’s Communist 7 Revolution: Stay, Leave or Return.” Cornell University, October 2009, an invited presentation.
  • “Chiang Kai-shek and the Business Sector in Modern China,” at “Re-Appraising Chiang Kai-shek: an International Dialogue.” Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario, August 2009, an invited presentation.
  • “Writing about Atrocity: Wartime Accounts and Their Contemporary Uses,” at “How to Tell the Tale: The Wartime Generation and Historical Memory in Postwar East Asia.” St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, May 2009, an invited presentation.
  • “The Trauma of Displacement: Chinese Journalists and Writers in Wartime, 1937-1945,” an invited lecture at the China Workshop of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 2009.
  • “Adaptive Authoritarianism: China’s Party-State Resilience in Historical Perspective,” Harvard Harvard University, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, invited presentation, July 2008.
  • Historical Society for 20th Century China, Biennial Conference, East-West Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, June 2008.
  • Association for Asian Studies, Annual Meeting, Atlanta Georgia, March 2008.
  • “The end of private banking in China, 1935-1952”

Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urban, 1975
M. A., University of Illinois, Urbana, 1971
B.A., University of South Carolina, 1968


East Asia;


Podcast: New Books in East Asian Studies

Zoom Book Talk: Chinese Business History group, University of Hong Kong - The Collapse of Nationalist China