Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary

Overview

When Gao Wenqian first published this groundbreaking, provocative biography in Hong Kong, it was immediately banned in the People?s Republic. Using classified documents spirited out of the China, he offers an objective human portrait of the real Zhou Enlai, the premier of the People?s Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. Often touted as ?the last perfect revolutionary,? Zhou is ?a modern saint? who offered protection to his people during the Cultural Revolution, and an icon who allows modern ...

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Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary

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Overview

When Gao Wenqian first published this groundbreaking, provocative biography in Hong Kong, it was immediately banned in the People’s Republic. Using classified documents spirited out of the China, he offers an objective human portrait of the real Zhou Enlai, the premier of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. Often touted as “the last perfect revolutionary,” Zhou is “a modern saint” who offered protection to his people during the Cultural Revolution, and an icon who allows modern Chinese to find an admirable figure in what was a traumatic and bloody era. But his greatest gift was to survive, at almost any price, thanks to his acute understanding of where political power resided at any one time.

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Editorial Reviews

Tribune
(t)he story of this great survivor is celebrated in a new biography written by Gao Wenqian, a former insider in the Chinese Communist Party's research department. (A)s Gao points out, the collapse of the former Soviet Union and East European Communist countries began with the demystification of official history and the re-evaluation of major historical events and people. This is his contribution to that process in his native country.
BBC History Magazine
A valuable and revealing book on the brutish and incredibly cruel nature of the Maoist regime. For a sense of what life as a top Communist leader under Mao was like look no further.
Daily Kos
An incredibly fascinating eyewitness or well researched account about a man the West knew little about.
December Issue) Far Eastern Economic Review
Mr Gao's biography does supply some new information about how Mao's closest lieutenants, notably Zhou Enlai, usually obeyed him, at first because they shared his ruthlessness, and later, understandably if contemptibly, to save themselves.
Library Journal

Zhou Enlai had one of the longest careers of any world statesman. He came to national prominence in 1919 as part of China's antiimperialist May Fourth Movement, lived to welcome Richard Nixon to Beijing in 1972, and died in 1976. Yet Zhou has been an enigma, known (mainly through the opaque public record) as the balance to Mao's radicalism. This study aims to change this perception. A former contributor to the official Biography of Zhou Enlaiand staffer at the Chinese Communist Party Central Research Office for Documentation (restricted party archives), Wenqian Gao had access to files of interviews, gossip, memos, and internal compilations, which he smuggled out of China and used to write this explosive biography. Ultimately, Wenqian Gao damns the man who said yes to power and toadied to Mao's whims rather than sought to mitigate them. Unauthorized but authoritative, this smooth translation (originally published in Chinese in Hong Kong in 2003) is highly recommended for all libraries as one of the most important books on China in years.
—Charles W. Hayford

Kirkus Reviews
Exhaustively researched biography of the revered Chinese premier who helped guide China through its infancy onto the world stage. Zhou Enlai is probably best known for arranging the famous visits of President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger to China in 1972. But the fingerprints of this skilled diplomat and statesman remain all over the growing giant that is modern China. The author, who as a young bureaucrat wrote the Chinese Communist Party's official Zhou Enlai biography before emigrating to the United States with his smuggled notes, traces Zhou from his days as a struggling student revolutionary to his many years of loyal service as Mao Zedong's unassuming, faithful assistant. None of this ultimately mattered, however: Jealous of the worldwide attention thrust on Zhou following the Nixon visit, the vindictive, scheming Mao spent Zhou's final years trying desperately to discredit and destroy him. Unlike many other loyal supporters on whom Mao eventually turned, Zhou proved adept at dodging the attacks launched by the chairman and his vengeful wife Jiang Qing-attacks that persisted right up until Zhou finally succumbed to cancer in 1976. Eight months later, Mao also died. Zhou's choice for successor as Chinese premier, Deng Xiaoping, immediately launched the modernization of China's military and economy that Zhou had long sought. Mao and the murderous Cultural Revolution he had launched were finally cast in disgrace. Gao parlays his unique access to secret documents into a detailed, riveting account of the backroom intrigue that constituted life under Mao for China's leaders. Indeed, the wealth of detail and characters, coupled with a generally colorless translation, often makesthis story feel more like a history textbook than a revealing portrait. Nevertheless, students of both China and modern history will not be disappointed by this evenhanded, unblinking biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586486457
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 7/21/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 512,376
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gao Wenqian is the former official biographer of Zhou Enlai at the Chinese Communist Party Central Research Office for Documentation and director of the Zhou Enlai Research Group. He lives in Queens, New York.

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Table of Contents


Introduction   Andrew J. Nathan     ix
The Kiss of Death     1
The Making of a Revolutionary     21
A Young Communist in Europe     39
Building the Infrastructure of Revolution     49
Birds of a Different Feather     63
A Rising Star     75
Trapping the "Chinese Khrushchev"     89
"Preparing to Take the Test"     105
"A Man of Both Sides"     131
A Whirlpool of Absurdity     149
No Exit     165
Heir Pre-emptive     183
Night Flight     201
Whither China's Future?     229
Long Knives     237
From Duet to Duel     249
Sick-Bed Politics     263
The Final Battle     275
Epilogue: More Power in Death than Life     305
Author's Note     311
Translators' Note     316
Acknowledgments     318
List of Sources     319
Index     331
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