This well-researched, competently written biography sets the life and accomplishments of Deng Xioaping against the backdrop of the turbulent events that shaped modern China. During his long life, Deng fought to free China from its feudal and colonial past, helped bring the Communist Party to power, rose to high office and fell from favor several times and finally became the leader of his party and his country. Born in Sichuan Province in 1904 to a moderately wealthy landowner, Deng was sent to study in Paris at age fifteen. There he met other Chinese students who introduced him to the theories of Karl Marx and encouraged him to join their efforts to bring about a revolution in China. Deng became a willing worker for the Communist cause and a follower of Mao Zedong. He was later rewarded for his loyalty with a succession of high governmental positions. A survivor of several government purges, Deng eventually became leader of China. He brought his country into the international arena, encouraged the introduction of technology, and allowed the development of a less regulated, more open economy, but he brutally suppressed political dissent. He remained a staunch Communist until his death in 1997. An introduction that summarizes Chinese history, a glossary of political terms and a pronunciation/names guide will help young readers make sense of the large amount of unfamiliar information. Black-and-white photographs accompany the text. 2001, Lerner Publications, . Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Joyce Schwartz
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-This straightforward biography places the story of the leader's life firmly within the context of the development of modern China. It begins with a very brief description of the downfall of the Qing dynasty. Deng Xiaoping was a small boy when the Qing rulers were ousted, and so the way was open for him to move outside the traditional system of Chinese education and assert his leadership at a time when change was in the air. The text chronicles his rise to power and his subsequent difficulties. Stewart points out her subject's tendency to observe and follow the dictates of Mao Zedong carefully, allowing himself to rise to positions of influence where he could exercise his own judgment. His prudence and patience when he was out of favor are explained as well as the steps he took to rehabilitate his image with Mao so that he could regain power. The author has a slight tendency to generalize, especially about the reasons for Deng Xiaoping's actions, and at times as she relates the more recent events in China, she seems somewhat more subjective than in earlier chapters. The book is well illustrated with black- and-white photographs. While it won't fill readers with excitement about China, it is a good introduction to a complicated and important 20th-century figure.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.