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China After Mao

The Rise of a Superpower

Frank Dikötter

Bloomsbury Publishing

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ISBN10: 1639730516
ISBN13: 9781639730513


416 Pages



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Through decades of direct experience of the People's Republic combined with extraordinary access to hundreds of hitherto unseen documents in communist party archives, the author of The People's Trilogy offers a riveting account of China's rise from the disaster of the Cultural Revolution. He takes us inside the country's unprecedented four-decade economic transformation—from rural villages to industrial metropoles and elite party conclaves—that vaulted the nation from 126th ­largest economy in the world to second ­largest. A historian at the pinnacle of his field, Dikötter challenges much of what we think we know about how this happened. Casting aside the image of a society marching unwaveringly toward growth, in lockstep to the beat of the party drum, he recounts instead a fascinating tale of contradictions, illusions, and palace intrigue, of disasters narrowly averted, shadow banking, anti-corruption purges, and extreme state wealth existing alongside everyday poverty. He examines China's navigation of the 2008 financial crash, its increasing hostility towards perceived Western interference, and its development into a thoroughly entrenched dictatorship with a sprawling security apparatus and the most sophisticated surveillance system in the world. As this magisterial book makes clear, the communist party's goal was never to join the democratic world, but to resist it—and ultimately defeat it.


Praise for China After Mao

“A useful summary fusing together a wildly diverse set of decades of China under Communist rule, emphasizing just how the party has mutated in form and function.”—NPR Online

“A blow-by-blow account . . . An important corrective to the conventional view of China's rise.”Financial Times

“Highly-readable.”New Statesman

“A clear-eyed and detailed account.”The Guardian

"One of the most insightful and nuanced looks at the complex rise of China since the Second World War . . . engrossing and riveting."The Diplomatic Courier

“A revolutionary book.”The Sunday Times

“Dikötter delivers an excellent, highly critical description of China's spectacular expansion that emphasizes banking, industrial policy, trade, and currency . . . a richly informative, disquieting history.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Dikötter (The People's Trilogy) debunks the myth of China's miracle economy in this expert study . . . Extensively researched and cogently argued, this is a must-read for China watchers.”Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Frank Dikötter

Frank Dikötter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His books have changed the way historians view China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China to his award-winning People's Trilogy documenting the lives of ordinary people under Mao. He lives in Hong Kong.