A thorough picking-over of Deng Xiaoping’s record and accomplishments, setting him firmly as the linchpin linking an antiquated authoritative thinking to modern growth and acceleration.

With Deng’s accession to preeminence in 1978, China was still very much in the throes of closed thinking and hostility to the imperialist West, reeling from internal wounds inflicted by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution and choked by centralized control. In this well-considered and -researched study, Vogel, former director of Harvard’s Asia Center, portrays the whole remarkable character: from early student worker in France in the 1920s turned communist revolutionary, fired by imperialist humiliations and determined to help build a rich and strong China; to Mao’s capable tool in constructing a coalescent communist base and, by turns, Mao’s builder, finance minister and foreign and general secretary during the ’50s and ’60s. Indeed, Deng proved to be Mao’s indispensable “implementer,” to the extent of supporting Mao’s attack on outspoken intellectuals during the Hundred Flowers period and obediently carrying out Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward. Yet Deng’s reservations would render him purged and disgraced twice by Mao: during the early Cultural Revolution, then again in 1976, when Deng’s efforts at consolidation and reform (encouraging Western support, learning about modernization of industry and science and reviving higher education) were “placed in cold storage” because he was suspected of designs to seize power and restore capitalism. Under Mao’s successor Hua Guofeng, then as premier in his own right, Deng’s reforms in science, technology and education proved the impetus for the modernization that would propel China forward. His willingness to seek Western expertise and open to other countries, “emancipate minds,” encourage initiative and meritocracy and create special zones for attracting foreign investment have produced today’s economic juggernaut, yet his firm grip on the Communist party line also resulted in the tragedy of Tiananmen in 1989. Deng’s policy of staving off democratic reform by economic growth may last only so long. Vogel meticulously considers all facets of this complex leader for an elucidating—and quite hefty—study.


Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-674-05544-5

Page Count: 874

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?