DENG XIAOPING by Deng Maomao


My Father
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 Communist Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has been a major player on the world stage, but his daughter/biographer Deng Maomao fails to do him justice. Deng's turgid prose may be the fault of the translation, and no one expects objectivity from a daughter writing about a living father, but this out-and-out hagiography contains nothing to make up for those faults. She does describe in detail Deng's youth in Sichuan Province and also traces his travels to France, where as an exchange student he studied socialist ideology. This was a pivotal period in Deng's life, which laid the political framework for the war against the Nationalist Chinese. Deng's years as a young revolutionary in China are covered adequately enough, and there is worthwhile material on his relationship with Mao Zedong and other Communist leaders. However, the book is ultimately frustrating because the biographer chooses to end the narrative with the Communists' coming to power, and the reader is left wanting to know about Deng's tenure at the top. That is an unsettling omission for a biography of a prominent political figure. Further, rather than confining herself to Deng's life, the author attempts to cover the entire Chinese Revolution and the dynasties proceeding it. Her qualifier that she is not a historian is unnecessary; the reader soon grasps her shortcomings in that area. The younger Deng also has an irritating habit of drifting into political jeremiads, and the book suffers terribly from its poor organization. Despite the great disappointment, old and young ``China hands'' will have to at least peruse this to keep up with the current view on the historic events that swept China in this century--which matches the course of Deng Xiaoping's life. (b&w photos; maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-465-01625-1
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994


NonfictionDENG XIAOPING by Alexander V. Pantsov
by Alexander V. Pantsov