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Indeed, the wealth of detail and characters, coupled with a generally colorless translation, often makes this story feel...

Exhaustively researched biography of the revered Chinese premier who helped guide China through its infancy onto the world stage.

Zhou Enlai is probably best known for arranging the famous visits of President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger to China in 1972. But the fingerprints of this skilled diplomat and statesman remain all over the growing giant that is modern China. The author, who as a young bureaucrat wrote the Chinese Communist Party’s official Zhou Enlai biography before emigrating to the United States with his smuggled notes, traces Zhou from his days as a struggling student revolutionary to his many years of loyal service as Mao Zedong’s unassuming, faithful assistant. None of this ultimately mattered, however: Jealous of the worldwide attention thrust on Zhou following the Nixon visit, the vindictive, scheming Mao spent Zhou’s final years trying desperately to discredit and destroy him. Unlike many other loyal supporters on whom Mao eventually turned, Zhou proved adept at dodging the attacks launched by the chairman and his vengeful wife Jiang Qing—attacks that persisted right up until Zhou finally succumbed to cancer in 1976. Eight months later, Mao also died. Zhou’s choice for successor as Chinese premier, Deng Xiaoping, immediately launched the modernization of China’s military and economy that Zhou had long sought. Mao and the murderous Cultural Revolution he had launched were finally cast in disgrace. Gao parlays his unique access to secret documents into a detailed, riveting account of the backroom intrigue that constituted life under Mao for China’s leaders.

Indeed, the wealth of detail and characters, coupled with a generally colorless translation, often makes this story feel more like a history textbook than a revealing portrait. Nevertheless, students of both China and modern history will not be disappointed by this evenhanded, unblinking biography.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-58648-415-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2007

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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

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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