The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng

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9780316809108: The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng
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A dual biography of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping draws from conversations with colleagues to present the people behind the political figures and, at the same time, creates a narrative history of twentieth-century China. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An ambitious but labored joint political biography of China's late-20th-century rulers, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, that overreaches in its attempt to parallel, contrast, and interweave their paths to power. Veteran China-watcher Salisbury (The Great Black Fire, 1989, etc.) writes an exhaustively detailed anecdotal narrative without ever getting under the skin of either Mao or Deng. Though he tells us that both men grew up in the Chinese back-country, came from well-to-do families, and received above-average educations, Salisbury never makes important or clear enough the psychological differences that made Mao into a sexually promiscuous, egomaniacal addict (sleeping-pills) and Deng into a shrewd, resilient, but tempered bureaucrat. The author is better at demonstrating how Deng's stubborn independence and sheer bad luck delayed his emergence as Mao's handpicked successor. As early as 1932, Deng suffered his first censure from the Communist Party for leading a ``rich peasant life.'' Later, during the Cultural Revolution, he was shipped off to a menial industrial job for bucking Mao's ``cult of personality,'' and was readmitted to power only when, in 1971, Mao himself deemed it prudent to groom someone he essentially controlled to be the next ``emperor.'' Salisbury astutely notes that Deng's infinitely more modest self-image, personal tastes, and political flexibility (at least up until Tiananmen Square) are the deeply felt lessons of his own political victimization, lessons Mao taught but ironically never learned. The book's most brilliant drama comes in Salisbury's re-creation of Nixon's 1972 visit. Feigning good health and hiding political atrocities at home, Mao double-talked Nixon silly while the duplicitous Jiang Qing escorted the Nixons to a night at the opera. Compelling if overwrought, but a must for Sinologists. (Forty- five b&w photographs, two maps--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Salisbury's crowning achievement, this incredibly vivid, gripping dual biography of China's two modern emperors--Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping--is also a revelatory history of modern China's transformation. As Mao's young lieutenant, Red Army commander Deng (b. 1904) led the Long March that cost Chiang Kaishek one million men. Although Deng tirelessly fought for Mao's political viewpoints, Mao (1892-1976) during his dementia of the 1970s ousted his acolyte, subjecting Deng to torture, imprisonment and exile. Mao believed himself infallible. His hero was China's first emperor, barbaric Qin, who slaughtered Chinese by the hundreds of thousands. Deng, "at heart a small dragon, not a supreme dragon like Mao," is nevertheless another absolutist emperor. Drawing on years of travel, interviews and research in China, Salisbury ( Tiananmen Diary ) provides countless new details on key events. Among Salisbury's findings: Mao was excluded from the initial planning of the Korean War, which took him by surprise; Deng played a major role in Mao's brutal "anti-rightist" campaign of 1958. This epic double portrait deserves to become a classic. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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