“This deeply knowledgeable account of the rise and fall of regional Communist Party boss Bo Xilai (whose wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of Heywood's murder) by veteran journalists Ho and Huang reveals the weaknesses of top party leadership
. The authors unravel the myriad threads of politburo-level power struggleswhich make the Borgias look like rank amateursweaving together a narrative that includes obscene wealth and corruption, orgies, and totaled Ferraris on the streets of Beijing. This expert account is bolstered by the authors' willingness to admit that the story is so complex that ‘unless Heywood's spirit can find a medium, the whole truth about the November 15 murder may never be known.'”
“The authors have done an admirable job of sorting through the contradictions, half-truths and outright lies perpetrated by all the players in this drama. Their careful research and meticulous explanations will help everyone from general readers to veteran China-watchers sort out the meaning of Bo Xilai's rise and fall.”
“The light this book shines on the secretive world of Chinese politics makes it an especially important work. A must read for all China watchers; those interested in real-life murder mysteries and complex political scheming will also find it fascinating."
Howard French, Wall Street Journal
“The most revealing work on the Bo episode to date. What emerges is an immensely complicated tale of behind-the-scenes power struggles as full of scandal, ambition and betrayal as anything that ancient history has to offer
. The authors' account has the considerable merit of understanding that the surface plot built around Heywood's murder isn't the most interesting element in this narrative. They show how Mr. Bo's undoing had its roots in the country's intense but normally invisible factional jousting
. The narrative is thrilling and believable, based as it is on the information that Chinese officials leak to the press as part of their infighting
. The overall picture of elite politics in China is a devastating one of wanton ambition and lawlessness.”
“A gripping telling of the incident that would make for a great thriller novel—if it weren't all true.”
“As a lurid tale of wealthy and powerful people behaving badly, the authors' account of what has been unfolding in China since November 2011 can't be beat.”
“A true-crime murder mystery from 2011 set in a remote Chinese city, with an outsized impact on governance of the vast nation
. The authors weave a fascinating, dark narrative web.
A true-crime murder mystery from 2011 set in a remote Chinese city, with an outsized impact on governance of the vast nation. Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang (The Little Red Guard, 2012) use the case study method, shifting from the specific to the general throughout the book. The murder victim was Neil Heywood, a British businessman with ties to Chinese officials who held the power to approve business deals with foreign investors. While on a business trip, Heywood turned up dead in his hotel room in Chongqing. The authors reveal a list of likely suspects about halfway through the text. First, they introduce Wang Lijun, a powerful regional Communist Party official who served as the police chief of Chongqing. As a law enforcement chieftain, Wang Lijun carried a reputation for employing brutality with suspected criminals. Next, the authors introduce Bo Xilai, the most powerful regional official and ostensibly Wang Lijun's superior. Like many powerful party members who had risen to authority, Bo Xilai was a "princeling," which meant he was the spawn of previous generations of government officials considered stalwarts. The book's third section focuses on Bo Xilai's powerful wife, Gu Kailai, considered huo shui, loosely translated as "poisonous water." The authors explain how Gu Kailai continues a tradition of beautiful women who destroy the careers of powerful men. In the final section of the narrative, they link the murder case to the rise last year of Xi Jinping as the dominant Communist leader in the country. Because the names, titles and governmental forms will be unfamiliar to most Western readers, the narrative can feel like tough going at times, but the authors weave a fascinating, dark narrative web.
With access to information from high-level sources inside the Chinese government, journalists Ho (China's Princelings) and Huang (The Little Red Guard) explain the full story behind the 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in a hotel near Chongqing. This book reveals that Heywood's murder was merely a small part of a much more complicated story. Bo Xilai was an ambitious politician with dreams of ascending to the top office in China. However, once evidence surfaced that his wife, Gu Kailai, might have been involved in Heywood's murder, Bo's political enemies quickly used this scandal as justification to remove him from office, thus affecting the leadership of China. This episode has exposed the deep divisions inside the Chinese Communist Party; the authors make the case that the greatest threat to China's stability comes from within the party itself. VERDICT The light this book shines on the secretive world of Chinese politics makes it an especially important work. A must read for all China watchers; those interested in real-life murder mysteries and complex political scheming will also find it fascinating.—Joshua Wallace, South Texas Coll. Lib., McAllen