100 books like Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

By Ezra F. Vogel,

Here are 100 books that Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China fans have personally recommended if you like Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of June Fourth

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

This newly published book is the definitive account of the Tiananmen protest movement of 1989 and its suppression, which has turned out to be the pivotal political event in the post-Mao era. Weaving a range of personal stories and new documentation into a highly readable analysis, it lays bare its unpredictable course and tragic but avoidable outcome. There is nothing else in print that manages to describe the drama while providing a shrewd and cool-headed critical scrutiny of a range of competing scholarly interpretations and official misrepresentations.

By Jeremy Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked June Fourth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Tiananmen protests and Beijing massacre of 1989 were a major turning point in recent Chinese history. In this new analysis of 1989, Jeremy Brown tells the vivid stories of participants and victims, exploring the nationwide scope of the democracy movement and the brutal crackdown that crushed it. At each critical juncture in the spring of 1989, demonstrators and decision makers agonized over difficult choices and saw how events could have unfolded differently. The alternative paths that participants imagined confirm that bloodshed was neither inevitable nor necessary. Using a wide range of previously untapped sources and examining how ordinary citizens…


Book cover of Mao's Last Revolution

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

This instant classic was the first to draw deeply on a wide range of previously inaccessible sources about the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976. Highly readable and authoritative, it provides extensive insight into Mao’s actions and those of his subordinates and victims and documents the destructive impact of these conflicts all across China from the initial salvos at Peking University in May 1966 to the immediate aftermath of Mao’s death, which led to the arrest of Mao’s most ardent radical followers, the “Gang of Four”.

By Michael Schoenhals, Roderick Macfarquhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mao's Last Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People's Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.

In a masterly book, Roderick…


Book cover of Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

For years, the Dalai Lama was courted by Beijing in efforts to incorporate Tibet into the new Chinese Communist State. Drawing on official Chinese documents and memoirs and interviews with Tibetan emigres, Li pulls together a dramatic account of the maneuverings, miscalculations, and events during a critical period that culminated in an uprising in Lhasa that was violently crushed by the People’ Liberation Army, leading to the dramatic flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The account provides fresh new light on a dramatic failure of Chinese policy whose consequences are felt to the present day.

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tibet in Agony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident-the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989-is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened…


Book cover of Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

Zhang-Yue Zhou Author Of Achieving Food Security in China: The Challenges Ahead

From my list on understanding China’s great famine.

Why am I passionate about this?

My desire for food-related studies originates from my personal experience of starvation. Born in 1957 in rural China, I soon stepped into China’s Great Famine (1958-1962). During this famine, over 30 million people died of hunger, mostly peasants, including my grandpa (my mother’s father). As a growing child, I was hungry and today I still remember how my family struggled to feed us. After becoming a student at an agricultural university, I had the opportunity to think and started to ponder over food-related issues. After graduation, I became an academic and have since focused my energy on studies concerning food, chiefly, China’s food supply and food security. 

Zhang-Yue's book list on understanding China’s great famine

Zhang-Yue Zhou Why did Zhang-Yue love this book?

I treat Yang’s book as a bible for understanding China’s Great Famine (1958-1962). This famine remains little known to many people, including China’s younger generations. The Communist regime censors writings about this famine and controls the access to famine-related data and information.

As a senior journalist, Yang had privileged access to archives. He spent about twenty years piecing together the famine. His account of the famine is comprehensive with detail. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand China’s Great Famine. It greatly helped my studies in improving China’s food security and in avoiding future famines.

By Yang Jisheng, Guo Jian (translator), Stacy Mosher (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tombstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Yang Jisheng's Tombstone is the book that broke the silence on of one of history's most terrible crimes

More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War, yet this story has remained largely untold, until now. Still banned in China, Tombstone draws on the author's privileged access to official and unofficial sources to uncover the full human cost of the tragedy, and create an unprecedented work of historical reckoning.

'A book of great importance' Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans

'The first proper history of China's great famine ... So thorough is his documentation that…


Book cover of On China

Shaoyu Yuan Author Of Panda Not Dragon: Why the Rise of China Is Not a Threat

From my list on understanding China and Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yuan, born in a small town in Inner Mongolia, is a researcher and PhD candidate at Rutgers University. He is an expert on Chinese and East Asian studies. Yuan's research interests include Chinese foreign and domestic policy, Sino-US relations, and how the country utilizes its influence and fosters relationships. He received his MS in International Relations from Northeastern University and BA from Centre College. Yuan has written extensively on China and Chinese foreign policy.

Shaoyu's book list on understanding China and Chinese culture

Shaoyu Yuan Why did Shaoyu love this book?

Written by America’s former Secretary of State, this book is the one to read for Westerners to understand today’s China and some of its history. Mr. Kissinger successfully used some well-known Chinese stories, historical events, and Chinese games to communicate his message. The effects of the Opium War in 1840, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the board game weiqi (Go) were all accurately and thoroughly examined as instruments to understand today’s China. Mr. Kissinger and his collaborators performed a fantastic job translating Chinese classic works into English.

By Henry Kissinger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1971 Henry Kissinger took the historic step of reopening relations between China and the West, and since then has been more intimately connected with the country at the highest level than any other western figure. This book distils his unique experience, examining China's history from the classical era to the present day, describing the essence of its millennia-old approach to diplomacy, strategy and negotiation, and reflecting on these attitudes for our own uncertain future.


Book cover of The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why

Gloria Mark Author Of Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity

From my list on attention and why it is the ultimate currency.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2000, I entered the University of California, Irvine as an assistant professor. Suddenly faced with multiple research projects, courses, committees, grant-writing, and student mentoring, I found myself switching screens and tasks like crazy. But I was also glued to my computer. I began to wonder if this was normal? Trained as a psychologist, I decided to study empirically what was happening to our attention. I began research over two decades on attention and discovered how our attention spans have shrunk over time (to a mere average of 47 seconds). Fast forward, I've continued to study our relationships with our technology, uncovering different types of attention and busting myths associated with focus and productivity. 

Gloria's book list on attention and why it is the ultimate currency

Gloria Mark Why did Gloria love this book?

When I visited Asian countries of China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, food was always a highlight. But what also stood out for me was the social nature of eating. I was also struck by the simple gestures of people that indicated politeness and respect. We might think of culture as influencing behavior, but this book argues that culture can penetrate our thinking.

Nisbett contrasts how eastern and western cultures think differently about context, the individual vs. the group, and our relationship to the environment, among other differences.

In our age of the Internet, cultural differences on the surface may be eroding globally but there may be deeper influences of culture on thought that are harder to erase.

By Richard E. Nisbett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Geography of Thought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An award-winning professor of psychology examines the divergent ways in which eastern and western cultures view the world, offering suggestions about how today's interdependent global cultures may be bridged. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?

Bryant Wieneke Author Of Priority One

From my list on political thrillers promoting peaceful solutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I quit my job in 1994 to write. Fiction. It took me a while to find my niche, but what I realized is that I wanted to write political thrillers that were about more than how to stop the bad guys from killing the good guys by killing them first. There is another way. Starting with Priority One, and continuing to what is currently my tenth novel in the series, I imagine an American foreign policy that promotes the building of a more peaceful world through a combination of economic justice and humanitarianism, applied practically and pragmatically. It’s my dream for my fiction, as well as the real world.

Bryant's book list on political thrillers promoting peaceful solutions

Bryant Wieneke Why did Bryant love this book?

Destined for War is a brilliant study of the circumstances surrounding the global economic competition between the U.S. and China, with the goal of predicting whether or not war is likely. This is a real-life political thriller. Allison cites cases throughout history of a pre-eminent economic power being challenged for supremacy, and then describes why, in many cases, the competition became fierce enough to erupt into war. He also describes situations in the past where there was no war, and he explains how and why war was avoided. To me, as a fiction writer, who actually pushes the U.S. and China to the brink of war in his novels, this book was an important education and resource.

By Graham Allison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Destined for War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Sunday Times and FT Book of the Year

When a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one, the most likely outcome is war.

In this razor-sharp analysis, Harvard scholar Graham Allison examines the phenomenon known as Thucydides's Trap, which is currently playing out between the world's two biggest superpowers: the US and China.

Through uncanny historical parallels, Destined for War shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past - and what painful steps international leaders can and must…


Book cover of The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream

Shaoyu Yuan Author Of Panda Not Dragon: Why the Rise of China Is Not a Threat

From my list on understanding China and Chinese culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yuan, born in a small town in Inner Mongolia, is a researcher and PhD candidate at Rutgers University. He is an expert on Chinese and East Asian studies. Yuan's research interests include Chinese foreign and domestic policy, Sino-US relations, and how the country utilizes its influence and fosters relationships. He received his MS in International Relations from Northeastern University and BA from Centre College. Yuan has written extensively on China and Chinese foreign policy.

Shaoyu's book list on understanding China and Chinese culture

Shaoyu Yuan Why did Shaoyu love this book?

This fascinating book explains China from a historical perspective. It presents a detailed look at how China has transformed from its past to today, from the Middle Kingdom to Red Communist. 4,000 years of history is almost impossible to fit in a single-volume book, yet this book did its best and successfully summarized the most fundamental parts of the country’s history, introducing one of the oldest civilizations alive on earth to those who wish to learn more about China.

By Michael Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A single volume history of China, offering a look into the past of the global superpower and its significance today.

Michael Wood has travelled the length and breadth of China, the world’s oldest civilization and longest lasting state, to tell a thrilling story of intense drama, fabulous creativity, and deep humanity that stretches back thousands of years.

After a century and a half of foreign invasion, civil war, and revolution, China has once again returned to center stage as a global superpower and the world’s second largest economy. But how did it become so dominant? Wood argues that in order…


Book cover of The Communist Party of China and Marxism 1921-1985

Christine Loh Author Of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

From my list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am East-and-West. Born in British Hong Kong, studied in England, and worked for a US multinational in Beijing, I had a range of experiences that traversed Chinese and western cultures. Sucked into politics in Hong Kong prior to and post-1997, I had a ringside seat to colonial Hong Kong becoming a part of China. I too went from being a British citizen to a Chinese national. Along the way, I got interested in the environment and was appointed a minister in Hong Kong in 2012. I have always read a lot about the world and how things work or don’t work. I hope you like what I have enjoyed!

Christine's book list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong

Christine Loh Why did Christine love this book?

The author, a Jesuit priest from Hungary, spent years in China before moving to Hong Kong. He was the preeminent scholar on China in the 1970s-80s. Ladany poured over what the CCP said about itself to construct a marvellous “self-portrait” of the CCP, including insights about Hong Kong. His scholarship is awesome and there hasn’t been someone quite like him among scholars on China.

By Laszlo Ladany,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Communist Party of China and Marxism 1921-1985 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Without an understanding of the Communist Party no one can understand the China in which the Party has dominated the country. This book follows the development of the Communist Party and of Marxism in China from the early years. For the years 1921-49, it relies mainly on revelations in the Communist press of the early 1980s, when Chinese historians of the Party were relatively free to write. In relation to the People's Republic, beginning in 1949, it summarises what was reported by the author in China News Analysis. This is essentially the story of the Chinese Communist Party in its…


Book cover of The Dynamics of Chinese Politics

Christine Loh Author Of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

From my list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am East-and-West. Born in British Hong Kong, studied in England, and worked for a US multinational in Beijing, I had a range of experiences that traversed Chinese and western cultures. Sucked into politics in Hong Kong prior to and post-1997, I had a ringside seat to colonial Hong Kong becoming a part of China. I too went from being a British citizen to a Chinese national. Along the way, I got interested in the environment and was appointed a minister in Hong Kong in 2012. I have always read a lot about the world and how things work or don’t work. I hope you like what I have enjoyed!

Christine's book list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong

Christine Loh Why did Christine love this book?

Lucian Pye’s parents were American missionaries in China, and the author was born in northwest China. He was a sought-after China expert in his lifetime. He had a deep understanding of China and its politics, which meant he understood the CCP, and the book includes references to Hong Kong in the days when Hong Kong was a British colony but something was rumbling.

By Lucian Pye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dynamics of Chinese Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Pye, Lucian W.


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