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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography
Deng was a giant of a man. Not in size but in stature. He was the man who ensured China grew to be a economic power house within 20 years after his death. What is remarkable is that he only became paramount leader after he was released from exile imposed during the Cultural Revolution. So he started ruling China at the ripe age of 73.

This just released 700...
Published on 21 Oct 2011 by Mr. Leong Wai Hong

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The man behind modern China
Ezra Vogel does a good job in covering the life of Deng Xiaoping. One is left with the impression that if it wasn't for Deng China would still be a backward communist country. One wonders where China might be today if Deng had become leader back in 1949 rather than after Mao's death.

I shall spare you a summary of the book because it would be impossible to do...
Published on 26 April 2012 by Thomas Koetzsch


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography, 21 Oct 2011
By 
Mr. Leong Wai Hong (Malaysia) - See all my reviews
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Deng was a giant of a man. Not in size but in stature. He was the man who ensured China grew to be a economic power house within 20 years after his death. What is remarkable is that he only became paramount leader after he was released from exile imposed during the Cultural Revolution. So he started ruling China at the ripe age of 73.

This just released 700 page biography is a very readable book. It is written in a chronological manner. Not much is known of Deng's life as his modus operandi is not to leave notes but to commit all records to memory. This was his means to stay alive.
I highly recommend this book as the previous biography by Richard Evans was published way back in 1994.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The man behind modern China, 26 April 2012
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Ezra Vogel does a good job in covering the life of Deng Xiaoping. One is left with the impression that if it wasn't for Deng China would still be a backward communist country. One wonders where China might be today if Deng had become leader back in 1949 rather than after Mao's death.

I shall spare you a summary of the book because it would be impossible to do so in any meaningful way. Besides, you will find it far more interesting to read the book yourself.

A number of issues I wasn't terribly excited about. Even though the author concentrates mostly on Deng's period as China's supreme leader I would have liked more details about his earlier life - 35 pages to cover 65 years struck me as a bit inadequate. I would have loved to read something about Deng's position on the "100 flowers campaign" and on "the great leap forward" to name just two major events prior to 1969.
Secondly, the author could have made better use of the editor. The text could do with some tidying up. The word Deng is used a lot more than is necessary - at times its use becomes quite tedious.
Also the author should avoid `silly mistakes' such as ... `Deng did engage in the majority of his reforms after Jiang Qing's death'. She died (or committed suicide) in 1991 and not a lot earlier as the author implies.
At the end of the narrative the author lists a number of `key people in the Deng era'. I think the key people who ran China in the 1990s should be included there. Also the information given could have been tidied up quite a bit and lastly I would have liked to see this section at the beginning of the narrative because it makes more sense to list the key people there rather than at the end.

Having said all this Ezra Vogel's book on Deng Xiaoping should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in this period of China's history. For anyone interested in Deng's early life I can recommend Richard Evans' book on Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China because he covers that side of his life quite well. There are also a number of other books mentioned in Ezra Vogel's Preface, which should be worthwhile reading.

The author states somewhere in his Preface, that he hopes that this book will become the standard volume on the subject. I think not. A more correct second edition perhaps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed, and thoroughly readable biography, 23 Feb 2012
By 
A. J. Smith (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Kindle Edition)
Ezra Vogel's biography of Deng Xiaoping is a work long overdue within the numerous literature on modern China, and a work in every way entirely worth the wait.
As the most consequential Chinese leader of the past 3 decades, or arguably within the world, Deng Xiaoping had long been entitled to a thorough, and scholarly biography, and finally such a work is here.
As many may be previously familiar with the later parts of Deng Xiaoping's life, his downfall in the Cultural Revolution, and his return to power in 1978, here more detail is given to his earlier life in Sichuan Province, and his crucial early years as a student in Paris.
That is not to say that any detail is spared on the later more crucial parts of his life, such as his return under Mao and later Hua, and his period at the helm from 1978-1989. Here we learn the difficulty of the path he navigated between hardline conservatives such as Chen Yun, who were ambivalent toward economic reform, and the difficult process of opening up and maintaining the authority of the party.
This biography in some ways repudiates the commonly held notion that Deng was a capitalist in disguise. A key insight offered was that he was initially influenced by the new economic policy implemented in the USSR in the early 1920s, which was a much milder version than the socialism implemented by Stalin, and later Mao.
We also learn, that Hua Guofeng was the first to initiate Special Economic Zones, and had an inkling toward reform, even if he did not say so, but ultimately lacked the leadership pedigree inherent in Deng, making Deng's outmaneuvering of Hua inevitable.
More than just a chronicling of his economic reforms, the book contains a chapter on his flexible political vision, One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong Tibet and Taiwan. This details the success of the return of Hong Kong, which despite the expiration of the lease, the British still wanted to continue to administer, and his generous offers at reconciliation with Taiwan and the Dalai Lama.
The above chapter should be given thorough reading and re-reading by any sympathizers with Tibetan and separatism, as it exposes the generous opportunity missed by the Dalai Lama and his hardline exile community in Dharamsala.
We learn that the Dalai Lama's offer of return was the most generous he was ever likely to get, residence in Lhasa and Beijing, being made a Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress, and the autonomy they had long sought. Only this offer was rebuffed to demand more autonomy than was being offered to Hong Kong, and extension of the TAR to include all Tibetan areas in neighboring Chinese provinces.
While many China hands will be familiar with Deng's economic achievements, which are impossible to understate, this book also underscores his foreign policy achievements, which were equally remarkable.
Deng set about full reconciliation with the US and the USSR, and on both counts, achieved reconciliation entirely on his terms. Deng's foreign policy in itself was every bit as remarkable as his economic achievements.
What we have is a thorough biography and chronicling of the life of Deng in all aspects, and rather than being simply a biography of the man, it is also in itself, a standalone history of modern China.
Truly essential reading for any China enthusiasts, regardless of the immersion in the subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars provides a great in-depth biographical study of Deng Xiaoping utilising a great ..., 29 Aug 2014
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Amitpal S. Aujla "Xylem" (London, UK.) - See all my reviews
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The importance of Deng Xioaping in the development of 'modern' China has been immense. The reforms that he enacted as the Paramount Leader of China has changed the historical discourse of China in a positive and immense way.

Ezra Vogel, a specialist on China, provides a great in-depth biographical study of Deng Xiaoping utilising a great breath of primary sources. This book will provide a great understanding to how China changed and it future evolution over the course of the twentieth-century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good one, 31 Jan 2014
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it is bought for my friend. He likes it just after 1/3 of his reading. It seems this book tells the story of Deng from a special angle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars PARADIGMATIC FOUNDATIONAL RULER, 6 Jun 2013
By 
Yehezkel Dror (Jerusalem Israel) - See all my reviews
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Taking into account the large number of published Amazon reviews I limit myself to seven points, from my perspective of studying political leaders and advising them. But, first, an overriding observation:
In the discussion on the role of leaders in history, Deng clearly is a paradigmatic case of a leader who changed the trajectory into the future of a major country with crucial global repercussions. China could have developed differently but for the impact of Deng, who crafted "basic policies, which resonated with the economic needs and wishes of the people [that] continued to guide policy-making for decades" (p. 685). This was not deterministically ordained, but happened because of Deng, despite much opposition which nearly gained the upper hand.
Deng was an outstanding foundational ruler, changing the dynamics of China by a kind of "revolution from within," while maintaining the unity of the country and of the party as the basis of capacities to govern. When compared with Gorbachev the grand-strategy of Deng is all the more impressive, assuring both dramatic economic growth and overall political stability. The case of Deng clearly demonstrates that individual leaders can sometimes, if they have fitting qualities and the context provides facilitating conditions, impact significantly and even critically on the future.
To move on to seven more specific points:
1. Deng developed large parts of his approach while in exile during the Cultural Revolution, illustrating the benefits of periods of withdrawal and thinking, as pointed out by Toynbee and shared with other foundational rulers, such as Mandela.
2. He laid the bases for China becoming an economic and soon a geopolitical superpower and dramatically raising the welfare of the population - by increasing reliance on market processes and opening China to the global economy, while maintaining central controls. What he introduced, with the assistance of many advisors and actors, was a "socialist market economy" which was not only very successful, but elastic and open to further development fitting changing situations by Deng's successors.
3. A lesson of broad applicability central to the book is the need for high-quality thinking in terms of long-term futures, with all uncertainties, as essential for successful foundational rulership. But this requirement contradicts the short-term preferences built into consumption-oriented cultures, requiring overcoming in one way or another tensions between "nowtime" democratic political pressures and the duty of political leaders to look out after future generations. Deng did so successfully, thanks to the party regime and some Chinese traditions.
4. All civilizations, including modern Western culture, bias and distort understanding of other civilizations. Within Chinese civilization maintaining the unity of the country is a top priority. Lack of understanding of this and other crucial points resulted in disproportional Western criticism of the "Tiananmen Tragedy." Vogel avoids the misperceptions and exaggerated reactions characterizing much of the West and especially the United States, evaluating instead the episode judiciously (especially pp. 636-639).
5. Given its history, civilization, size and other main features, it is a delusion to expect China to become a Western-type liberal democracy and it is a serious mistake to recommend that it should become one. But other, partly unique, forms of democracy may develop in China with time, as indeed postulated by Deng.
6. Deng understood the critical importance of science and technology for the future of China, importing relevant knowledge, sending many students abroad, consulting outstanding experts including especially Chinese scientists living in the USA, and advancing university teaching of science and technology.
7. Upgrading the quality of leadership was a main concern of Deng, including mandatory retirement age, leadership teams, self-criticism (if not imposed forcefully), cultivating successors, competitive meritocratic examinations (having a long Chinese tradition, but modernized), careful selection taking into account knowledge and experience, high-level party leadership schools, and more.
To conclude: All countries and humanity as a whole are cascading into radical novel and in part inconceivable futures, making foundational rulers essential world-wide. Therefore the experiences of Deng, as well presented in this book, are very relevant to the concerns of political leaders and their advisors, and to the study of leadership as a whole.
All in all, the book is fascinating, in part because of its subject matter but also thanks to the author. In contrast to some other reviewers, I think it is well edited and regret it is not longer. This book deserves more than five starts. I strongly recommend it to students, politicians, executives, thinkers and activists interested in China and the future of the world as a whole. All the more so, this biography is obligatory reading for all who want to understand foundational leaders or aspire to become one.

Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, 8 Oct 2014
By 
Paul D (Derry, N. Ireland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Kindle Edition)
Excellent I feel I have learned a lot from this book
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a great man, 3 Mar 2013
By 
Troels M. Hansen (Copenhagen Denmark) - See all my reviews
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Superb written and very easy to read
Very informative and a lot of new information about a "little" great man
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, 26 Feb 2013
good word and the history show you something different about the china and deng.
should try to go to china one day
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent biography, 21 Jan 2013
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Superb insight into personal dynamics among China's senior leaders during the Mao-era and the 1980s, from the Cultural Revolution to the fall of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang
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