Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (21)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I have read a great many books about China over the last 2-3 years and this is one of the best. It provides some excellent insights into the relationship between the state and commerce in the world's fastest growing econonmy (although India isn't far behind), as well as the centrality of the state in other aspects of Chinese life. I particularly enjoyed the blend of...
Published on 26 Jun. 2010 by D. P. Mankin

versus
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry but it didn't work for me...
This is very well written, thoroughly researched and clearly explained look at the role and levels of control that the communist party has in China. So why only 3 stars? Well because like a lot of books about modern politics or very recent history it has picked one topic that can't sustain a whole book. As a newspaper expose or an online article this would be winning...
Published on 8 Feb. 2011 by J. Duducu


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 Jun. 2010
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have read a great many books about China over the last 2-3 years and this is one of the best. It provides some excellent insights into the relationship between the state and commerce in the world's fastest growing econonmy (although India isn't far behind), as well as the centrality of the state in other aspects of Chinese life. I particularly enjoyed the blend of anecdote and analysis, something which lesser writers often fail to get right, thus undermining the quality and rigour of the central thesis. Anyone who believes that countries such as China will morph into a clone of a typical western democracy, because they believe this is the only way free-market capitalism will work, should read this book. Richard McGregor's analysis of China's poltical system is revalatory. He is excellent at highlighting the tensions within the political system and the extent to which the future of the country's political system is inextricably linked to how it develops (or is allowed to develop) its economy. This is a must if you want a much better understanding of how China has been able to transform its economy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book about the party!, 18 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (Paperback)
As a Chinese, I tend to think that it is difficult for foreigners to really understand China and provide insightful analysis about the country and its Party. After reading this book, my view has changed completely. I am surprised how good it is, how deep it is and how informational it is. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand modern communist party!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding China and what it really means, 27 Aug. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an excellent introduction and analysis of contemporary China. McGregor's analysis and insight are very perceptive and he tracks the emergence and shifting power structures within the Communist Party in a fascinating manner. Taking a thematic approach and using very specific examples he takes us on a journey through the complexity of Chinese administration. What you see is certainly not what you get in China as far as this book is concerned. he is very good on the economic analysis of how CP political structures trump economic governance. The basic premise of the book is the shadow world of authority that the CP maintains over the economy has been misread by the western capitalist system. He argues that rather than becoming more like the West China has become more Imperial reinventing itself with a new mandate from Heaven to interpret economic fundamentals. He details how through an extended and closed network of patronage and influence the CP maintains a system of control that is at once devolved and also in key parts highly centralised. The sections on the economy, the milk scandal and internet are very good. This though is not the whole story and he does miss out some of the key tensions currently running through China.

An excellent book, well written and easy to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Party". China's ruling elite revealed, 28 July 2010
By 
Anthony O'Brien "Anto" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Every now and again, a truly definitive book on China emerges. One such was "Hungry Ghosts", Jasper Becker's account of Mao's disastrous "Great Leap Forward". Another is "The Dragon's Gift," Deborah Brautigam's definitive account of China's involvement in Africa. "The Party", Richard McGregor's investigation of the Chinese Communist Party(CCP), its structure, influence and power, is a truly authoritative work.

McGregor's strength as an author is that "The Party" is not only informative, but also immensely readable. It is enlivened with anecdotes of particular case studies, cadres who have risen and fallen from grace, entrepreneurs who have carved out business empires only to fall foul of the authorities, and Party officials who have made fortunes from bribes, only to be executed as scape-goats for the Party's overall corruption. He reveals the sheer extent and pervasiveness of the Party's grip on China as no other book has yet done. And suddenly, so much of what emerges from China as distinctly alien politics makes perfect sense. The Party has the same hierarchical structure and power as the medieval Church of Rome. Indeed, the sale of Party official posts and favours resembles nothing so much as the sale of indulgences in pre-Reformation Europe. Simony, the buying or selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices, or emoluments, is exactly paralleled by the sale of similar, secular perks in China by the CCP.

A few quotations will give the spirit of the book, and a quick insight into the flavour of 21st. century Communism, Chinese-style.

"The Party is like God. He is everywhere. You just can't see him." [a professor at People's University in Beijing].

"Listen, we are the Communist Party and we will define what communism is." Chen Yuan, Governor of China Development Bank, in response to being hectored by a US political scientist about contradictions between Marxism and China's free market reforms.

"...the only way to put the latest communist principles into practice was to maximise returns for shareholders." Guo Shuqing, CEO of the China Construction Bank.

McGregor draws on twenty years of reporting from China, and has done more than any other writer really to penetrate the veils of secrecy and paranoia surrounding China's ruling elite. He shows how a non-elected Standing Committee of just nine men ultimately control every aspect of Chinese political life.

McGregor points out that one organisation alone, the Central Organization Department, the party's vast and opaque human resources agency, has extraordinary power by any standards. "It has no public phone number, and there is no sign on the huge building it occupies near Tiananmen Square. Guardian of the party's personnel files, the department handles key personnel decisions not only in the government bureaucracy but also in business, media, the judiciary and even academia. Its deliberations are all secret.

"If such a body existed in the United States, McGregor writes, it `would oversee the appointment of the entire US cabinet, state governors and their deputies, the mayors of major cities, the heads of all federal regulatory agencies, the chief executives of GE, Exxon-Mobil, Wal-Mart and about fifty of the remaining largest US companies, the justices of the Supreme Court, the editors of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, the bosses of the TV networks and cable stations, the presidents of Yale and Harvard and other big universities, and the heads of think-tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation.'"

Chairman Mao said that the State stands on three legs, the Military, the Economy, and the Media. The CCP has complete control of all three.

Richard McGregor has written a stunning, engrossing, fascinating book. Don't miss it. China controls an ever-expanding slice of the world. This book shows whose hands are on the levers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Party: The secret World of China's Rulers, 22 Aug. 2010
By 
Dr. Martin McCauley (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The best book on how the Communist Party of China seeks to retain power. McGregor identifies the military; personnel policy (which also embraces the economic sphere); and information flow as the three pillars on which President Hu Jinatao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao build their power.Ideology plays a functional role and thus is infinitely flexible. As a financial jounalist McGregor provides an incisive analysis of the Deng Xiaoping reforms which began China's long march to prosperity. However he regards the present economic model (excessive reliance on exports and slow development of the domestic market) as unsustainable. Altogether the best study available on modern China. Everyone who visits China or does business there should read it. Martin McCauley
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent piece on China, 7 Sept. 2010
This is a very well written book by someone who has lived his subject, not just researched it. From the perspective of someone who wants to know far more about China and its prospects, but with only skin-deep current knowledge, this fills in some of the bigger gaps. In execution, the author has looked at major events and developments, and shows how the CP both reacted and evolved as a result. A fascinating insight into one of today's economic powerhouses, but with no hyperbole and with a healthy dose of realism. China is almost an enigma, and this book helps to uncover why it is what it is, and also the problems it faces in the future. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decay and Evolution, 27 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a really fascinating account of the current state of China and the Chinese Communist Party. Too often, accounts of China in the West take a surface view of this burgeoning economy and assume that development must, in many ways, rely on the economic, if not social, models of the West, particularly after the demise of Russian communism. This relatively short book paints a far more subtle, nuanced and inclusive picture of a country and it's ruling party as both 'decaying and evolving' in the face of internal and external challenges.

In eight clearly defined chapters, McGregor considers 'The Party and the State', 'The Party and Business', 'The Party and Personnel', 'The Party and the Gun', 'The Party and Corruption', 'The Party and the Regions', 'The Party and Capitalism' and 'The Party and History'. What comes across is a picture of a ruling central organisation that is ubiquitous, fragile, subtle and, at the same time, hugely adaptable. The Party is not synonymous with the government, nor the state. 'The Party', as the quote at the beginning of Chapter 1 says 'is like God. He is everywhere. You just can't see him'. It has survived horrendous famines, the Cultural Revolution, Tienanmen Square and, so far, many of the vicissitudes assailing Western economies. How it has managed this, and how it may continue to do so for some time to come, is laid out in each chapter as Mr McGregor takes a core element of Chinese society and investigates it's relationship to the Party, using an illuminating mixture of history, example and anecdote.

Many western investors in Chinese businesses assume that China is, in some sense, becoming a capitalist society, but this is to completely miss the intimate relationship between the Party and all levels of the economy. It is assumed that China's state-run sector will suffer the same fate as such enterprises in Russia, but this is to miss both the flexibility of the organisation and the readiness to learn from the mistakes of others. It is far from perfect, of course, but it is more open to change, as long as this change is supervised and sanctioned by the Party, than many Western commentators realise.

Overall, what comes across is both, in some ways, rather admirable and Orwellian. But the point is continually made that anyone who thinks that China is simply adopting a Western 'free market' strategy is seriously mistaken - the role and actions of the Party remain central. Again, the Party can both 'decay and evolve'.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent journalism, 21 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (Paperback)
The Chinese communist party itself has changed down the years. Where it once took the majority of its membership from rural peasantry, it now comes from wealthy entrepreneurs and star students. There is a large and spinning revolving door between the CEOs of Chinese enterprises, (which are both owned by the state and by private individuals private-public hybrids) and elite positions in the communist party.

The guiding wire of Communist Party policy is maintaining its control over the state. Of particular concern to the party is its control over the military, whose loyalty the head of the communist party never takes for granted. Successive Chinese Presidents have increased the army's budget. This may be partly to increase china's influence abroad, but it also serves to keep the military loyal to the party.

China's growth has been marked by a rising wealthy. A thin and highly connected class of billionaires and multi millionaires has emerged. This class are as uncomfortable with democratic politics (independent trade unions, Human rights groups, anonymous voting etc) as the communist party are.

Yet at the same time social unrest is rising. Protests are mounting chiefly regarding government land sales, pollution and working conditions. As China becomes more industrialised, strikes are becoming more frequent and wages as rising, as Marx would have predicted. However it seems unlikely that a powerful and class conscious working class will rise in China as it did in Europe in the early to mid 20th century.

It's not clear what exactly the force of law is in China. For example, nominally the state-private corporate hybrids have independent decision making powers. Their independence from Party coercion is codified in Chinese corporate law. Yet at the same time, one phone call from Xi Jinping and the CEO would do whatever he is told and the law would be put on hold.

Chinese growth has largely been fuelled by the state. Whilst hefty market reforms took place under Deng Xiaoping highest growth areas, such as Shanghai, have been correlated with huge government investment. It is estimated that as much of 80 of Shanghai's GDP was from the state.

It is hard to say what the Chinese thought/still think of Deng's market reforms. But the propaganda department were heavily involved in selling them to the ordinary Chinese in the 80s. Job security `the iron bowl' has disappeared. So too have job opportunities for women. Wages as a percentage of GDP has decreased. Chinese growth has left the majority of Chinese people behind.

The propaganda department is very powerful and very effective. It has borrowed corporate propaganda techniques (marketing, PR, corporate communications etc) from the West. The days of The Party simply killing its critics are gone. It is arguably this propaganda department that is the most effective instrument at keeping the general Chinese public off the throats of the powerful. (see Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing dictatorship)

It's hard to get very far in China without powerful parents. There is a `Princeling' class - the sons and daughters of China's communist elite. Whilst significant, being born into the right family is not everything and there are some dramatic counterexamples such as Hu Jintao who came from nothing.

Money worship seems to be the running culture amongst the Chinese middle and upper classes. Whether this is true of the rural regions and working classes it does not say.

McGregor's survey or the contemporary Chinese government is a gripping read. He vividly narrates the transformation of the world's largest bureaucracy. It is also exceptionally timely.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars China's Communist Party explained in terms a Westerner can relate to., 8 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (Paperback)
Richard McGregor (former Financial Times correspondent in China) explains China's Communist Party in terms which a Westerner can relate to.

1. "The Communist Party of China Is like God...He is everywhere, but you can't see him". I think a better analogy is that that Party is like the Church in Medieval Europe. All Kings subservient to Rome, bishops outrank the nobility, and there exists a parallel system where the Church holds higher authority. Written into the Chinese constitution, judges owe a higher loyalty to the Party than to the law. It also states that senior party members are literally above the law, accountable to a distinct party disciplinary body.

2. Rather like the Medieval Church, the Party holds the (single version) of the truth. For 20 years, Mao's state-induced famine (35-40 million deaths) was unknown of. Only leaks to foreign journalists (in the case of both SARS and the Sanlu dairy poisoning) forced the authorities to admit to the truth.

3. No toleration for parallel systems (heresy): Falungong, Trade Unions, religion, even a direct-sales company all represent alternative organisation structures and cannot be tolerated. Party members (6% of the population) are forbidden from having a religion. Large private firms also represent an alternative organisation structure - the party has learned to co-op, control, or bankrupt those to represent a challenge and establishes party cells within private firms. Virtually all top CEOs (including private, overseas listed firms like China Mobile) are appointed or at least approved by the Party's immense organisation (ie HR) department.

4. Corruption is a glue which holds the system together, in the same way that nuclear weapons made the cold war power stable. With dirt all round nobody in power has an interest in bringing the system down.

The cover picture of this book is of the "red phone", the direct phone line CEOs and important Chinese officials have on their desk to the Party. Like the book itself a simple, vivid and memorable image.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Big Brother is watching over you, 12 May 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (Paperback)
Richard McGregor does a fine job in showing us how well China's communist Party runs the country's politics and the economy and how these two depend on what the Party defines as its interests. If you work in China or if you do business in or with China some of this book's contents should not be unfamiliar to you. You should also recognise some of the many anecdotes McGregor uses throughout the book.

The author starts off by telling us how the Party runs the State followed by how the Party runs the economy. I personally loved the concept of the red telephone - wouldn't we all like to have one of those. I also like the way the Party switches Chief Executives from one company to another and into politics and back into the economy. Chapter 3, the Party's personnel department, I found the most intriguing chapter.

Chapters 4 to 7 detail how the Party deals with various aspects of the country including the military, corruption, the regions and how well the Chinese version of socialism has been perfected. I found none of these chapters repetitive. They merely highlight how the Party exercises its authority. You will find a lot of anecdotes here and some of them are quite horrendous.

Chapter 8 deals with the Party and history and how the Party would like that history to be understood. Jasper Becker's Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine would presumably be news to many people in China but it is nice to know that the Party finds it more and more difficult to cover up what it deems inappropriate for domestic public consumption.

I like the author's conclusions and I agree with them. About the only complaint I have is that the author is a bit vague about the future. I would have liked him to speculate a little bit more on how the Party should deal with potential challenges (corruption no doubt among them). But apart from, this is an excellent book and a must-read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers
The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor (Paperback - 2 Jun. 2011)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews