Mandate of Heaven: A New Generation of Entrepreneurs, Dissidents, Bohemians, and Technocrats Lay Claim to China's Future

Mandate of Heaven: A New Generation of Entrepreneurs, Dissidents, Bohemians, and Technocrats Lay Claim to China's Future

by Orville Schell

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, observes Schell, a generation in China has seemingly lost the grand hope of radically reforming the political establishment. Nevertheless, Schell ( To Get Rich Is Glorious ) offers valuable firsthand reportage not only on April-June 1989 but also on spontaneous acts of resistance and mini-rebellions since then. He also profiles China's new muckrakers, underground publishers, artists, rock musicians and entrepreneurs who are flourishing in ``gray zones'' of commerce and culture outside the party-state structure. If another upheaval comes, Schell surmises, it will arise over economic rather than political issues. He takes us inside China's abysmal prisons, arbitrary courts, the vast gulag of forced-labor camps and the nascent union movement. He interviews astrophysicist and dissident Fang Lizhi and exiled labor activist Han Dongfang. Schell's mix of trenchant reporting and political analysis makes him an indispensable guide to a new China struggling to be born. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Although the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is important to Americans who are concerned about human rights in China, Schell reiterates much of what already has been observed by others. The difference is that his book is disorganized and, therefore, difficult to read. In contrast to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's excellent China Wakes (LJ 7/94), Mandate of Heaven uses secondhand sources to document Tiananmen. In the first 230 pages, Schell describes his interviews with Chinese dissidents, which have already been published in unabridged form in, for example, the New York Times Magazine. The second half of his book supports the thesis that Deng Xiaoping have effectively squashed the people's interest in political freedom by appealing to their craving for material wealth. Finally, this is a book of impressions, which makes Schell's failure to provide a context particularly frustrating. Except when he states that he was vice-chair of Asia Watch, Schell does not discuss his own background. With a career in journalism that dates back to the early 1970s and an expertise in Chinese language that began in the early 1960s, this is a strange omission-as is the fact that he mentions his Chinese-born spouse only in passing. For the very reason that Schell frequently mentions his Chinese "friends," he needs to provide the reader with some understanding of how he became acquainted with them. An optional purchase.-Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, Ill.
A look at the China of the mid-1990s and the generation that stands poised to inherit the right to govern the world's largest nation. Schell talks to the students, workers, peasants, teachers, intellectuals, labor leaders, and pop stars who acted out the drama of Tiananmen Square and who are now playing the leading roles in China's development. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

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