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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The man behind modern China, 26 April 2012
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This review is from: Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Apr 2012, 17:38:23 BST
Ai xia says:
This book would collapse if to give a diferent view of Deng other than that accepted in the liberal world: that he was a liberal too. For me Vogel fails completely to understand maoist China and thus to give any real understanding of Deng as a person, very little is explained of him, and as a statesman. I agree with you on that this book is introductory stuff
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