Deng: A Political Biography is the story of an extraordinary man whose imprint on late twentieth-century China's social, political, and economic development is indelible. Written by an insider, this study is notable for the great detail it provides on elite-level Chinese Communist Party politics and Deng Xiaoping's changing relations with his party colleagues in the jockeying for power that constitutes an important aspect of CCP politics. Benjamin Yang has a masterful grasp of this dimension of Chinese politics, and his narrative leaves no doubt that Deng was a politician first and foremost. This fascinating biography combines intimate details and the sweep of history encompassing the epic struggles of twentieth-century China. Students of China, scholars as well as general readers, will find this book indispensable.
Deng Xiaoping entered the inner circle of the Chinese Communist elite by ingratiating himself with Mao Zedong. After he became China's paramount leader in 1978, Deng jettisoned Mao's legacy and surfed the waves of post-Mao reform. Yang's richly detailed biography portrays him as a pure political animal drawn to the scent of power but without any firm political compass other than expediency. Yet, according to the author, his positive accomplishments outweighed his mistakes. Yang (The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party, M.E. Sharpe, 1995) brings an insider's knowledge of Chinese communism to his account, which is strong on elite politics but weak on the larger context of China. He offers few synthesizing judgments and little analysis. Most China scholars acknowledge the difficulty of deciphering Chinese politics. Yang fancies himself unique in his superior understanding of Deng and smugly criticizes other biographers, although he himself is not infallible. For academic and larger public libraries.Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, N.C.
A deeply researched and authoritative biography of the second ruler of the Communist period in China's history, by a scholar who arrived in the US from mainland China shortly after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Paper edition (unseen), $21.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.