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Deng Xiaoping: A Revolutionary Life, by Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I. Levine
Sign in Subscribe. Subscribe Login Sign up. And while it is essentially a market economy "socialism with Chinese characteristics" , Deng and his successors ensured the continuation of CCP rule by severely repressing the democratic movement and maintaining an iron grip on power. When Deng died at the age of 92 in , he had set China on the path it is following to this day. Alexander Pantsov and Steven Levine's new biography of Deng Xiaoping does what no other biography has done: based on newly discovered documents, it covers his entire life, from his childhood and student years to the post-Tiananmen era.
Thanks to unprecedented access to Russian archives containing massive files on the Chinese Communist Party, the authors present a wealth of new material on Deng dating back to the s.
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In a long and extraordinary life, Deng navigated one epic crisis after another. Born in , Deng, like many Asian revolutionary leaders, spent part of the s in Paris, where he joined the CCP in its early years.
He played an increasingly important role in the troubled decades of the s and s that were marked by civil war and the Japanese invasion. He was commissar of a communist-dominated area in the early s, loyal henchman to Mao during the Long March, regional military commander in the anti-Japanese war, and finally a key leader in the revolution.
During Mao's quarter century rule, Deng oscillated between the heights and the depths of power. He was purged during the Cultural Revolution, only to reemerge after Mao's death to become China's paramount leader until his own death in This objective, balanced, and unprecedentedly rich biography changes our understanding of one of the most important figures in modern history.
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Pantsov contends with Soviet archives, while Levine wrangles Chinese-language materials and secondary sources in English. Both bring prodigious energy and research firepower to their work. Commendable work. Since Mao Zedong took control of the country in its most powerful figures have hardly ever given interviews to journalists. Those who have lived or worked closely with these politicians tend either to sing their praises, condemn them out of hand usually from the safety of exile or, in most cases, keep quiet. A plethora of rumour clouds the picture further. Writing about the life of Deng Xiaoping is one of the toughest challenges of all.
Yet during this period he often operated behind the scenes; others held the post of Communist Party chief. After his retirement in , he continued to play an important role with no more title than that of chairman of the China Bridge Association. The card game was a favourite pastime.
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They have made extensive use of a hitherto untapped source: once-secret archives kept by the Soviet Union. But by the late s once-close ties between the two countries were unravelling. A cold war between Russia and China broke out in the s that did not end until , the year Deng—by then 85 years old—officially retired. Indeed, by the late s the Americans may well have had better insights.
Did he give the army a green light to kill? Was he surprised by the bloodshed?
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