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Publisher's Summary

Once described by Mao Zedong as a "needle inside a ball of cotton", Deng was the pragmatic yet disciplined driving force behind China's radical transformation in the late 20th century. He confronted the damage wrought by the Cultural Revolution, dissolved Mao's cult of personality, and loosened the economic and social policies that had stunted China's growth. Obsessed with modernization and technology, Deng opened trade relations with the West, which lifted hundreds of millions of his countrymen out of poverty. Yet at the same time he answered to his authoritarian roots, most notably when he ordered the crackdown in June 1989 at Tiananmen Square. 

Deng's youthful commitment to the Communist Party was cemented in Paris in the early 1920s, among a group of Chinese student-workers that also included Zhou Enlai. Deng returned home in 1927 to join the Chinese Revolution on the ground floor. In the fifty years of his tumultuous rise to power, he endured accusations, purges, and even exile before becoming China's preeminent leader from 1978 to 1989 and again in 1992. When he reached the top, Deng saw an opportunity to creatively destroy much of the economic system he had helped build for five decades as a loyal follower of Mao-and he did not hesitate.

©2011 Ezra F. Vogel (P)2021 Tantor

What listeners say about Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

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Another butcher of the Chinese language

While Ezra Vogel’s text is one of the greatest texts in the library of modern China Studies, this audiobook is yet another in Audible’s collection in which the narrator makes no attempt at learning to read basic Pinyin. While it is unreasonable to expect anyone who reads a book about China to be fluent in Mandarin, the reader’s lackluster pronunciation of almost every Chinese proper noun that is not “Deng Xiaoping” makes it very difficult to follow. Even in the first hour, I found myself often having to piece together what the reader is trying to say, distracting me from following Vogel’s argument. It is disappointing to me that many audiobooks about China make this same mistake. Please, Audible, spend some time training readers how to properly pronounce non-English languages!

4 people found this helpful

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Poorly Selected Reader

The book was great, but the performance left much to be desired. I’m not trying to be unkind but the voice and speech pattern were wooden, rigid and robotic in a way that detracted. More importantly, with that many Chinese terms and quotes in the book, they really should have selected someone with an ability to pronounce Chinese correctly. His Chinese pronunciation was atrocious and incomprehensible and at times that made it difficult to understand the referenced name, city or quotation.

2 people found this helpful

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One of the best books, one of the best politicians

Have read it nearly 10 times and been waiting for the audio release during 5 years.
I bow to academic Ezra F. Vogel – God bless his soul; thank the publisher Tantor Audio and Audible.
The author’s depth of analysis, professionalism and talent are such that you want to return to this book like to Lee Kuan Yew’s.
USA cannot survive by keeping its people in the dark, here – in silence, about the best books about the best politicians because of the deep state egotistic considerations.
Maybe it is time to let the audios of the Lee Kuan Yew’s books?

1 person found this helpful

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Enlightening in an Objective Manner

It’s rare to get such an insight from an objective viewpoint of events as they happened - it’s effect positively and negatively in such an organized light.

Most information is politicized on these topics or largely biased without insights into the underlying infrastructure but Vogel’a presentation gives light to all angles and perspectives from foreign leaders to the domestic public

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insightful and Progressive

I found this audiobook very interesting and kept me captivated until the end.
no man is perfect Deng Xiaoping is no exception.
this humble man dedicated his focus and service towards what he believed was the greater good for his people and the motherland.
yes, there is a short dark period in his tenure being 1989.
in all, he managed to do a very good job taming the Dragon that China is. while trying always to not be too much in the limelight.

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Great book well produced

Deng Xiaoping is a key to any scholar trying to understand modern china. Ezra does a good job of trying to present a fair accurate picture given Deng’s attitude of staying out of the spot light. The audio version was well produced and brought the story to life.

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Fair and educational

Learned a lot about Deng Xiaoping and China.
My only gripe is the narrator could not pronounce Chinese. I understand Chinese so with this author's pronunciation, the names and direct quotes sounded like gibberish.

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Excellent book on rise of China as a world power

This is a must listen book for those who wants to learn about China's transformation from an economically poor country to world's largest economy. It also provide insight into the pros and cons of various political ideologies and systems of governments that exists in the world today. The author Ezra F. Vogel has done a great job in detailing the personal traits of Deng Xiaoping objectively. While this is a long book, narrator Eric Jason Martin did an excellent job in keeping the listener very well engaged through out the book - a Herculean task for such long book.

I think the book can be made further pleasing to listen by minimizing the mention of dates of various meetings and details that are not significant. This can also help shorten the length.

Again a great book that has well documented what it took to uplift the standard of living of billion plus people in China along with the story of a transformative leader Deng Xiapping who has no parallel in the human history.

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Excellent history of modern China

This biography of Deng Xioping offers an incredibly detailed history of how China moves from Mao to the modern China we know today. Excellent book for those looking to learn more about China.

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  • Furry Cheese
  • 06-22-21

Thrilling text let down by poor choice of narrator

Eric Jason Martin is clearly an accomplished narrator, but couldn't we have found someone who can actually pronounce Chinese? Every important name and location in the text is hopelessly garbled, making this so much more difficult to follow than necessary. What a shame considering the monumental nature of the scholarly work.

Skip the Audible. Just read the book.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-20-21

A well researched and fascinating book.

Busts numerous myths about the Deng era. The book is helpful for understanding China today.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-07-21

Uneven biography

Very good on policy development under Deng, but rather too uncritical on many aspects. Also very light on Deng's personal life, his family, his personal wealth, and his overall history prior to 1980. Decent enough read, but uneven .

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  • rico
  • 08-31-21

Highly recommended

In general, this book has expressed very sophisticated facts & opinions. Also the narrator tried very hard on Chinese pronounciations, well done!