An astute, well-crafted work that should be enormously useful in understanding China’s role in the world.




A remarkably in-depth infiltration of the shadowy organization of Chinese leadership.

Expert observers of China’s astounding economic explosion do not agree on what kind of model the country seems to be following: Is it Western, Eastern or something entirely of its own making? In this careful study, McGregor, former China bureau chief at the Financial Times, asserts that just “under the hood” of the Chinese model is the classic “Leninist playbook” embracing the “three pillars of its survival strategy: control of personnel, propaganda and the People’s Liberation Army [PLA].” The author examines each in turn, using archival material and a skillful deployment of interview subjects, including a provincial member of the “Central Organization Department,” which oversees appointments and maintains files on all top-level officials in the public sector. McGregor manages to penetrate the “pathological secrecy” surrounding the inner workings of Chinese power, exploring how the leadership has managed to loosen and gain control at the same time (“grasp the big, let go of the small”), both in terms of businesses and the private lives of the Chinese people. After the debacle of Tiananmen Square in 1989, which ushered in a nationwide mood of democracy, the PLA was purged and modernized, at huge expense. Emerging as “an instrument of international statecraft for China,” it continues to employ hostility toward Taiwan as a useful way of holding down an anti-imperialist threat. The author delves into corruption—and the accepted belief that one must employ corruption to be successful—the cut-throat “Darwinian internal competition” within the far-flung localities, recent product scandals such as Sanlu’s tainted infant formula and attempts at confronting the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution.

An astute, well-crafted work that should be enormously useful in understanding China’s role in the world.

Pub Date: June 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-170877-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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