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Zhou Enlai

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  132 ratings  ·  24 reviews
When Gao Wenqian first published this groundbreaking, provocative biography in Hong Kong, it was immediately banned in the People's Republic. Using classified documents spirited out of the China, he offers an objective human portrait of the real Zhou Enlai, the premier of the People's Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. Often touted as "the last perfect re ...more
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Published July 1st 2008 by Public Affairs (first published 2007)
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As the title of this book suggests, Zhou Enlai is one of the few (perhaps the only?) Chinese revolutionary figure with an unsullied reputation. The official party line on his reputation is that he was a great diplomat, the Beloved People's Premier, and a moderating force against Mao's excesses, especially during the Cultural Revolution. This is the story which our author challenges.

This translation is adapted from a Chinese book called Zhou Enlai's Later Years (周恩来晚年). Much of this volume is ba
Andres Eguiguren
The title is somewhat misleading, as this biography focuses on the last decade of Zhou's life rather than his revolutionary career pre-1949. If you are at all interested in learning more about Zhou, Mao, and the Cultural Revolution this is well worth reading, however. I teach about China post-1949 for the IB Diploma History course and this confirmed my overall impression of Zhou as one of the most decent and smartest of the old CCP cadres. There is much to admire in his deft ability to read and ...more
Omar Ali
This book is an edited translation of a Chinese book written by a Chinese historian (Gao Wenqian is the former official biographer of Zhou Enlai at the Chinese Communist Party Central Research Office for Documentation and director of the Zhou Enlai Research Group. He left China after the Tienanmen massacre and now lives in Queens, New York). So it can be a hard book to follow, even for someone interested in Red Chinese history, as a lot of things are taken for granted by the writer and others ar ...more
The author of this book, Gao Wenqian, was in charge of official research on Zhou Enlai for the Chinese National Archives during the 1980's. After the Tiananmen Square incident, Gao became disillusioned with the Communist Party and left China for the US. He smuggled out his notes, and used them to write this biography of Zhou Enlai. (Zhou was the Premier (i.e., Prime Minister) of China from 1949 until his death in 1976.)

The book is not a comprehensive biography of Zhou, and instead focuses mostly
This was an excellent book and provided a lot of insight to the political situation in China during the Cultural Revolution. The author drew from the still-sealed state archives and, I'd say that the book's content is as authoritative as possible. Basically, the idea of Zhou Enlai as having nothing to do with the Cultural Revolution- while obviously false when considered in light of Mao's obvious reliance upon him for keeping control of the country and managing foreign relations- is still someth ...more
This is a very interesting fragment of history. A researcher in the Chicom central archives, with full access to many top secret documents has written a book about the second most famous Chicom revolutionary. The complex character that emerges evokes the same ambivalent feelings as other not-completely evil men who served evil masters. Through the whole book the evil nature of Mao Tsedong shines through. Zhou helped to save many people from destruction in the Cultural revolution and tried to pre ...more
It appears that once the revolutionaries took hold of China, they had no idea what to do with it. In the absence of any program for bettering the country, Mao chose a legacy of power and adulation over one of public works. The result was a wholly dysfunctional bureaucracy where participants schemed not for corner offices, but for their lives. This book documents those internal battles.

Unless you have some background in this, not all the dynamics will be accessible. What is clear to the general r
Sep 05, 2009 Meghan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Chinese history
Recommended to Meghan by: B&N
After reading the Author's Notes, I found out that this book is banned in China. So being a guest of the People's Republic of China, I will avoid making any comments about the Cultural Revolution, as it's bad manners to suggest criticism of it or the former Chairman.

That said, this book is ultimately about the title man, Zhou Enlai--premier of China. He is a complicated man, and life required him to make complicated decisions. I believe he received criticism regarding some of those decisions as
Understanding China's James Madison

This is a fascinating look into modern Chinese history and the role played by one of the founding fathers of the modern Chinese state. In life, Zhou was always in the shadow of Mao Zedong, yet in the end it was his vision of a Chinese communist state focused on economic development and modernization rather than cultural revolution that prevailed. By no means a hagiography, this book provides a balanced portrayal of a complex man who may have been one of the mos
Zhou Enlai was a much more complex actor in China's tumultuous existence under Mao than I previously had thought. Although he did a lot of good for the people and protecting China's cultural history, I feel that Zhou's conscious decisions not to stand up to Mao to protect his position w/in the ruling party, keeping his ability to deflect some of Mao's actions however lead to the rule Mao had for so long over China.
Thomas Clark
This is one of the best biographies that I've read; Zhou Enlai is one of the most fascinating and complex people in modern Chinese history.
I thought I knew all about Zhou Enlai.

Wasn't he Mao Zedong's old crony from the Long March of 1934-5 when Mao and the Red Army escaped from the Chiang Kai-Shek forces, the escape that kept the Red Army intact to fight another day -- that day in 1949 when they tossed out the Chiang forces and declared the People's Republic of China?

read more ...
Iain Coggins
Moderately informative, but too much of a re-hashing of well-published info. on the overall Chinese revolutionary era. This English edition of Wenqian's book at first appears to be an expose of Zhou, but there is overemphasis on Mao that leaves one wanting more and deeper insights into the mind of the late Premier. I was disappointed.
Greg Strandberg
I bought this book in Hong Kong in 2009 and brought it back across the border to Shenzhen. Of course you couldn't buy this copy there. I thought the book did a good job detailing Zhou's life, but it was pretty dry.

Overall good if you're looking for information, but not real captivating.
A very informative book but the narration is a bit boring, probably due to the translation. I hope to find the original Chinese version.
Unfortunately, this book is just kind of boring. But then, Zhou was a politician and simply reading about political maneuvering isn't very interesting. Reading a 100 page summary would have been much more interesting.
Well-written, a decent account of the great statesman. Not completely thorough, but detailed enough to satisfy those seeking a portrait of the man.
Donovan Walling
Moving slowly through this dense bio of a key figure in the formation of modern China.
Great biography about Mao! Barely anything on Zhou
But yo, that cover alone is worth five stars.
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