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The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141038853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141038858
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description



(Sunday Times )

Masterful ... entertaining and insightful (Economist )

Superb ... an essential, riveting guide to how the rising power really works (Jonathan Fenby )

If you read only one book about China this year, it should be this one. And if you do not read this book, you probably do not understand China today (Arthur Kroeber China Economic Quarterly )

A compelling exploration of the world's largest and most successful political machine (New Statesman )

A book that is as informative as it is entertaining ... China has been transformed. The system that takes the credit is brilliantly described by McGregor (Chris Patten Financial Times )

McGregor is one of the best foreign journalists who have reported from China. The Party draws on two decades of superb reporting ... A fine contribution for those who want to know about the rising power they will face in the decades ahead (Ezra Vogel, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University )

Few outsiders have any realistic sense of the innards, motives, rivalries, and fears of the Chinese Communist leadership. But we all know much more than before, thanks to Richard McGregor's illuminating and richly-textured look at the people in charge of China's political machinery ... invaluable for anyone trying to make sense of China's future plans and choices (James Fallows, National Correspondent For The Atlantic )

Fascinating and ambitious ... Richard McGregor lays bare the secretive machinery of the party (Gady Epstein Forbes )

McGregor has done the world a service with his fascinating new book (Peter Hartcher Sydney Morning Herald )

A fascinating read ... in an age when Chinese economic influence is reaching new levels, it is an invaluable exercise in understanding the operation of the most powerful political party in the world (Ian Kehoe Sunday Business Post )

A vivid narrative, sprinkled with humour and insight ... amazing characters ... an engrossing read (South China Morning Post )

Gripping ... McGregor brings to life the characters behind the icons of Chinese power and wealth, the figures that built the Shanghai skyline and rebuilt Beijing for the Olympics. More importantly, he gives us a feel for the dynamics behind China's rise (Irish Times )

A lively and penetrating account of a party that ... has clung to secrecy as an inviolable principle (Andrew Higgins Washington Post )

Eminently readable ... McGregor has done a great service to those who would hope to better understand where China's power lies (China Economic Review )

An illuminating glimpse behind the red curtain ... McGregor's lucid dissection shows how top-ranked party members - indeed the party itself - sit outside the law (Metro )

About the Author

Richard McGregor is the China bureau chief for the Financial Times. Since 1990, he has spent all but two years in north Asia, starting in Taiwan, and then in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing, where he established offices for The Australian newspaper. He joined the FT in 2000 in Shanghai and was appointed China bureau chief in 2005. He has also contributed articles and reports to the BBC, the International Herald Tribune and the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr David Mankin VINE VOICE on 26 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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!
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.. a really scary and informative insight into the mechanics of modern China. The writer really knows his stuff and anyone wanting to know more about the Chinese 25% of the human race should include this on their reading list. It is particularly relevant to anyone investing in or doing business with China.
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Format: Paperback
The leit-motif of this book is the ‘red-phone’ on the desks of senior executives in Chinese companies. The idea is that the communist party maintains control of major ‘private’ coporations. He shows that the three main telecommunications companies, in theory in competition, swopped chief executives at the behest of the party. McGregor gives us a tour of various parts of Chinese society – industry, the army, the civil service, among others. He notes the significant part that corruption plays in the party, and the fact that the party;s insistence that there is no other power structure can exist in China, means that the corruption, which is associated with power, cannot be effectively eliminated. In fact, the waves of investigations of corruption have been used by powerful factions within the party to root out their rivals.

My reaction to the book was that a lot of what Is being described is Economic Nationalism – take an example of France – where the government directs a lot of what industrial leaders do, and industrial leaders cycle in and out of government departments. As I finished the book, it seemed to me that the lack of effective, independent power structures within the society and the regularity and possibility of changing the party in government is what distinguishes Chinese society from Western ones. A fairly obvious point, but reinforced, in detail, by this excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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