The author provides an examination of the reciprocal relations between China and the United States over the past century and a half. She articulates the theme that cycles of misperception have characterized the relationship. If this past is prologue, then potential conflict looms darkly over future U.S.-China interactions. The first step toward precluding conflict, according to the author, is to understand the nature of the past relationship. Then, the two countries must overcome the deep perceptual gap between their cultures, their historical views and their ideological perspectives. Such understanding, widely shared in each society, will not assure development of bilateral partnership, but is essential to giving it a chance.