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Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  989 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
No one in the twentieth century had a greater impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar is better qualified than Ezra Vogel to disentangle the contradictions embodied in the life and legacy of China's boldest strategist--the pragmatic, disciplined force behind China's radical economic, technological, and social transformation.
Hardcover, 928 pages
Published September 26th 2011 by Belknap Press
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Apr 16, 2016 BlackOxford rated it it was amazing
Continuity as Illusion

I question whether even the Chinese understand China. Perhaps because if they did the result might be mass suicide.

Much better to, like the Catholic Church, re-shape the meaning of words to the needs of the day while keeping the form constant. A sort of rationality can thus be maintained within the most irrational of situations.

Deng's practical repudiation of the Maoism that almost killed him while maintaining the forms of Maoist 'thought' is the theme of this breath-takin
Aug 31, 2012 Jordan rated it liked it
It wasn't a easy read. Not because the writer was not talented. In contrast this book provided a fascinating account of Deng's life.

The event leading up to the tragic Tiananmen square was covered in details. The things I learned about Deng from this book: He doesn't like to talk, he's short, he was a oversea student in France, he suffered three purges under Mao, one of his sons was crippled due to Cultural revolution.

Deng was a ultimate political survivor. What ultimate helped Deng was Mao beli
Zachary Zhao
No country underwent greater changes in the second half of the twentieth century than China and no man was more responsible for these changes than the subject of this incredible biography. Deng Xiaoping - the architect of modern China - received both the respect and the criticism that he deserved in Vogel's well-researched book. The author skillfully tied the ups and downs of Deng's personal life with those of the country that Deng so deeply loved and by doing so, crafted a piece of work that is ...more
An enormous, fascinating view of the man who had, after a century and a half of agony, brought China into the modern age, and brought hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Deng is not an easy man to write about, due to the nature of his work, his government, and the fact that he didn't take notes and instead memorized everything. Many Chinese government archives also remain off-limits.

After spending less then a hundred pages on the first fifty years of his life, the next six hundred are devoted t
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra Vogel, is a fabulously written biography of one of modern China's most well regarded politicians. Deng Xiaoping was a fascinating character, who put the framework in place that China has used to modernize and bring millions of people out of poverty. He redesigned China's political landscape, radically altered its Marxist economy and put the necessary reforms in place to put China on the path to its current position in the world. Even so, his ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Tremendously insightful bio of probably the most important figure of the 20th century in terms of long term impact: Den Xiaoping. Very little about him is part of common knowledge outside China and this a great detailed account of his early life but with most detail devoted to the late Mao era and then his surprising take over of China and his profound strategic redirection of its whole future course. Incredibly well researched and a compelling narrative with lots of analytical insight as to why ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Bou rated it really liked it
When considering the modern history of China and to understand the current, modern China, we need not look at Mao Zedong, but at Deng Xiaoping, the architect of modern China. To understand China is to understand Deng Xiaoping.

In his book, Ezra Vogel gives a detailed account of the life of Deng Xiaoping. He starts with his early life, how he became a communist, his rise and downfalls during Mao Zedong and ultimately his rise after the death of Mao Zedong and the transformation of Mao's Chiona to
Betty Ho
Jan 14, 2013 Betty Ho rated it it was amazing
If you are going to read one book about modern China, this is the one. Here's why:

1) To understand China nowadays, one must understand Deng Xiaoping. Perhaps, this is the only book in the market with such detailed account (around 900 pages) of how/ why China was transformed (both in a good and bad way) under Deng’s leadership. However, those who are looking for untold stories of Deng will be disappointed.

2) Most western-authored books about China have their underlying question of “China – what’
Jul 30, 2012 Ray rated it it was amazing
Ezra Vogel wrote a really really long biography of Deng Xiaoping, the second Emperor of the Communist Dynasty. It's massive, packed with detail, enormously interesting, and more than a bit scary. So Deng Xiaoping was one of those elemental badass guys who's a lot of fun to read about, and very scary when you realize that real people had to deal with him and the consequences of his actions. Much like his old boss Mao Zedong, that way, except that where Mao was more of a crazy mad warrior poet dic ...more
Steven Peterson
Aug 09, 2015 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing
A wonderful biography of Deng Xiaoping. There is more emphasis on the later as opposed to earlier years of his life. He was a survivor, having been purged twice by Chairman Mao Zedong. But Mao was not to be finished with Deng--keeping him on the backburner in case he needed his skills later on.

The book provides background for his ultimate leadership of China. Deng was "taken down" during the Cultural Revolution, an enormous upheaval of Chinese society orchestrated by Mao. Deng and his family wer
Feb 22, 2015 Carl rated it it was amazing
This is probably the longest book I've ever read, but recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more about China, or who has a general interest in history or business. Personally, it has given me a lens through which I can better interpret modern China.

It paints a balanced and nuanced picture of modern Chinese history, and is a story of extreme pragmatism, making difficult decisions, and masterful political navigation both domestically and internationally.

At a macro level, I think business an
Aug 09, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
"As long as it catches mice, it doesn't matter if the cat is black or white." Thus Deng Xiaoping on the centrality of utility in his great goal and achievement: laying the foundation of the opening and modernization of China's economy. This process, a world-historical event whose effects we are just starting to feel, is Deng's lasting legacy to the Chinese people and the world. Professor Vogel traces the life and times of this remarkable leader who survived three purges but always returned to th ...more
Alex MacMillan
Jun 22, 2012 Alex MacMillan rated it really liked it
My appreciation of this book, one of the best I read this year, is well expressed in the meme format. (broken link)

To me, the only major downside of this book was that after having read Mao: The Unknown Story and Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, I was surprised that the author downplayed some of the nastier elements of Mao and Deng's CCP. For example, the One-Child Policy initiated by Deng's administration, one of the cruelest and most significant social policies in human history, gets two p
Washington Post
Oct 28, 2013 Washington Post rated it it was amazing
Ezra Vogel’s masterful history of China’s reform era is perhaps the clearest account of the revolution that turned China from a totalitarian backwater into the power it has become today. John Pomfret, a former China correspondent for The Post reviewed this biography for Book World, which made our top 10 list for 2011.

Read Pomfret's review here:
Meihan Liu
Sep 25, 2016 Meihan Liu rated it it was amazing
If you like On China, you will like this one. Sympathetic, understanding, starry-eyed.
Mark Witzke
Jun 09, 2017 Mark Witzke rated it really liked it
If you want to understand modern Chinese history and have time to read a 800 page book then this is the one.
Sep 03, 2011 Mof rated it liked it
A comprehensive story of the reign of Deng Xiaoping. The focus naturally is on the years in power and the role he played in the transformation of the Chinese economy. However the book fails to answer the most important question about Deng. How was he able to overcome the fact that he was banished from leaderships positions not once, but thrice, and was able to come back and lead the country? Vogel's answer comes many times in obsequious ines like this "His colleagues recognized that ... no other ...more
Abib Ding
Feb 13, 2017 Abib Ding rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tair Kuanyshev
Aug 05, 2014 Tair Kuanyshev rated it it was amazing
It's not a book only about Deng Xiaoping. History of China, especially in the second part of the 20th century transformed from a poor country to the second biggest economy nowadays. Communist party leadership in China is almost same with Soviet one, which has been ruled our country for 70 years. But several advantages of China and wise and foresight vision of top people in China helped to move ahead the economy except of collapsing as it happenned in Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The contribut
Rahul Mohanani
Oct 13, 2016 Rahul Mohanani rated it really liked it
It is a treat for those interested in learning the concepts of economic development, military strategies and superior personality traits. It would have been better if it was written in continuous chronological order. Coming to the central character of the book, Deng was a shrewd pragmatist. His belief in the communist ideology provided him the authority to lead and his willingness to experiment is what generated result. He was the strict and practical leader which China desperately needed at tha ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Khaleel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People interested in China
Recommended to Khaleel by: Amazon
A magnificent and detailed account of the life and events of China's paramount leader in Post-Mao China. The books is very well researched and referenced and contains a lot of detail on China's internal politics as well as policies (foreign and domestic) during the Deng era. Ezra Vogel has done a great job in aiding our understanding China's foreign policy and the economic policies that gradually took hold in China and that led to China's re-emergence as a world power.

I would have liked a bit m
It's not the most psychologically deep biography, but that's likely because there isn't enough written archival information to examine because they man never took notes or wrote a journal. Even though it lacks psychological analysis of the man, the story of achievement after setback after achievement is amazing.
Jun 23, 2012 Jerry rated it really liked it
Shelves: china-related
history. really well-researched and though some people may find a lot of the defenses of deng pandering, i found it was a pretty even-handed (if sometimes overcompensatingly pro-chinese) take on a very interesting and profoundly important historical figure
Jul 23, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it
Pragmatic Deng began to reform the Chinese economy after being thrown under the bus by Mao at least twice. Deng claimed "a market economy happens under socialism, too." But, sadly, he was also likely the one who ordered the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989.
Shu Zhang
Apr 23, 2013 Shu Zhang rated it it was amazing
A good, objective book.
Lupeng Jin
Apr 24, 2015 Lupeng Jin rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book for anyone who is willing to understand the contemporary history of China. Brilliant ideas about Mr. Deng's leadership.
Mar 28, 2012 D. rated it really liked it
One cannot overemphasize the relevance of the book towards understanding modern China.
Rune Huang
Jul 17, 2013 Rune Huang rated it it was amazing
The man who transformed China and the world.
Xi Hu
May 03, 2017 Xi Hu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 20, 2017 Floraduoduo rated it it was amazing
I benefited quite a lot from the notes and references.
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He was born to a Jewish family in 1930 in Delaware, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1950 and received his Ph.D. from the Department of Social Relations in 1958 from Harvard. While attending Ohio Wesleyan, Vogel was a member of the Beta Sigma Tau fraternity (that later merged with the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity). [1]

He then went to Japan for two years to study the Japanese languag
More about Ezra F. Vogel...

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“If there is one leader to whom most Chinese people express gratitude for improvements in their daily lives, it is Deng Xiaoping. Did any other leader in the twentieth century do more to improve the lives of so many? Did any other twentieth-century leader have such a large and lasting influence on world history?” 2 likes
“蒋介石意识到与共产党的裂痕正不断扩大,担心受到攻击,于是在1927年4月率先下手剿共,大开杀戒,很多中共领导人遇害。” 0 likes
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