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The Changing Face of China: From Mao to Market Hardcover – 21 Jul 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; First Edition edition (21 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192806122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192806123
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.6 x 16 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 753,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"Magisterial... Impressive..." -- David Rennie, Daily Telegraph

"magisterial... impressive..." -- Daily Telegraph, 6 August 2005

A piece of classic scholarship. -- Tribune, 26 August 2005

About the Author

John Gittings was the Guardian's China specialist and East Asia editor (1983-2003) and opened the newspaper's first staff bureau on the mainland in Shanghai. He began to visit China during the Cultural Revolution and witnessed the major events of the past thirty years, including the Tiananmen Square protests and the Hong Kong handover. His books include works on Chinese foreign policy, military affairs, politics, and domestic society. He has also written on international and nuclear politics and was for many years the Guardian's foreign editorial writer.

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers everything you really need to know of how China came to be from the start of its communism with Mao to the modern day market economy. It shows the clear progression of how events triggered each other and how the main personalities shaped the present. It shows how the Tiananmen masssacres led to the market economy that you have now and the reason is not as idealistic as you want to believe. It has evrything from Chiang Kai-shek to the enviromental problems currently faced and it's all beautifully written.
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Format: Paperback
I was very disappointed with this book. Gittings clearly is an expert on his subject. But he writes for an equally-expert audience. This book is not for the interested man in the street looking for the big picture. There is a huge amount of detail about political machinations and the internal debates about the direction of socialism in China, but no proper context. There are frequent references to important events without explanation of what they are. Timelines are also very confusing - hardly anything is presented in chronological order, the only help in this respect being a 4-page Chronology in the Appendix. There is also no clear explanation of how China is governed (in particular how leaders and the ruling group are chosen), how decisions are made, or the key policies of successive leaders/governments. Perhaps what this book needs is not a 4-page Chronology at the back but a 40-page summary at the beginning outlining the key stages in the development of China during this period, which would put all the detailed material into context.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an incredibly detailed and in-depth look at the political and social history of China from the beginning of Chairman Mao's premiership to the present day, delving into each segment of China's political history with painstaking attention to detail.

The result is sometimes heavy and there are undoubtedly sections of this book that will weigh down all but the most hardened political animals. The research that John Gittings has provided in this book, however, is startling, and very, very impressive.

The best attribute of this book, however, is it's balance. It is not a pro-communist, one-sided travel brochure, neither is it the usual Western anti-Chinese propaganda, rather, it is a balanced and reasonably fair look at both the positive effects of Mao's cultural revolution, the fantastic liberation of the peasants, but also the current bureaucracy of the CCCP, and the horror that was the Tiannemen Square massacre. Most of this book is colourful, interesting and informative, particularly the sections that focus on various Chinese literature and poetry. The description of the USA's cowardly and disgraceful attack on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 also makes the blood boil. Events like these help show just how spiteful and antagonistic American foreign policy is and always has been, and such events are a shameful reminder of the cretinous hypocrisy of the West.

There is also a great deal of humour in this book. Demonstrations against the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade saw people carrying placards which contained some truly amusing slogans such as "I'd rather die of starvation than eat a McDonalds, I'd rather die of thirst than drink Coca-Cola.
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