The best books on the Chinese Communist Party

1 authors have picked their favorite books about the Chinese Communist Party and why they recommend each book.

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The Communist Party of China and Marxism 1921-1985

By Laszlo Ladany,

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

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.

Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

By Christine Loh, Richard Cullen,

Book cover of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

What is my book about?

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China's wise and pragmatic "one country, two systems" policy. Hong Kong people and the world bought those stories.

But now it is clear that the British version of the Hong Kong story no longer holds while Hong Kong people are not so sure about themselves and their future seems less bright. The city and its people are stuck--they have no compelling narrative that joins the past and the future. This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about "us" and "you", the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal "he/she/it" story--a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.

Hong Kong's Watershed

By Gary Ka-Wai Cheung,

Book cover of Hong Kong's Watershed: The 1967 Riots

The 1967 riots in Hong Kong were inspired by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China. It was a turbulent and violent period both on the mainland and in Hong Kong. British colonial rule was threatened but it survived, and it turned the people of Hong Kong away from the CCP. The story of this fascinating period is told by veteran journalist, Gary Cheung from Hong Kong.

Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

By Christine Loh, Richard Cullen,

Book cover of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

What is my book about?

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China's wise and pragmatic "one country, two systems" policy. Hong Kong people and the world bought those stories.

But now it is clear that the British version of the Hong Kong story no longer holds while Hong Kong people are not so sure about themselves and their future seems less bright. The city and its people are stuck--they have no compelling narrative that joins the past and the future. This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about "us" and "you", the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal "he/she/it" story--a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.

The Dynamics of Chinese Politics

By Lucian Pye,

Book cover of The Dynamics of Chinese Politics

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.

Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

By Christine Loh, Richard Cullen,

Book cover of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

What is my book about?

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China's wise and pragmatic "one country, two systems" policy. Hong Kong people and the world bought those stories.

But now it is clear that the British version of the Hong Kong story no longer holds while Hong Kong people are not so sure about themselves and their future seems less bright. The city and its people are stuck--they have no compelling narrative that joins the past and the future. This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about "us" and "you", the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal "he/she/it" story--a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.

Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

By Kumari Jayawardena,

Book cover of Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

The Sri Lankan feminist Kumari Jayawardena produced this groundbreaking history in 1986 and it has never been out of print. It told me so many things I didn’t know, for example how Chairman Mao’s early radicalism was centred on women’s issues: a social system which so subjected women must be brought down; Marxism was a later add-on (but don’t tell the Chinese Communist Party, they don’t like to acknowledge this fact).


Who am I?

I have specialised in writing about radicals and non-conformists who seem to me to be the most interesting people in the world. I like books about people doing challenging things and making a difference. I love travelling to obscure archives in other countries and finding the riches of personal papers in dusty old rooms curated by eccentric archivists who greet me like an old friend.


I wrote...

Women and the Vote: A World History

By Jad Adams,

Book cover of Women and the Vote: A World History

What is my book about?

In 1893 women had the vote in only one nation, New Zealand. By the 1960s women had the vote in almost all countries and it was an indication of backwardness in the ones where they didn’t. In this book I trace the history of this revolution in world politics in relation to woman, not just in continents where the story is well known but in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In every place there were radical pioneers whose stories are told here, often for the first time in the West.

The Party

By Richard McGregor,

Book cover of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers

The Chinese Communist Party is a mystery and this book is the best journalistic guide to try to understand it. This book inspired my reporting in China. It made me understand that the party is at the heart of every important decision made by Beijing though its decision-making is rarely visible. Written by a former Financial Times reporter, the book documents the big role the party plays in everything from picking the CEOs of China’s biggest firms to revamping the military.


Who am I?

For nearly 40 years I have worked at the Wall Street Journal, largely focusing on international economics. I was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Asian and Russian financial crisis. China has been a particular passion. In 1999, I covered the U.S. negotiations with China over its entry to the World Trade Organization, which included side trips to New Zealand and elsewhere for some of the talks. From 2011 to 2014, I was posted in Beijing where I wrote about the Chinese economy and loved getting out to the countryside. Back in Washington, I reported on the deteriorating U.S.-China relationship, especially during the Trump years.


I wrote...

Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War

By Bob Davis, Lingling Wei,

Book cover of Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War

What is my book about?

This is the inside account of the U.S.-China economic struggle starting in the 1990s.  I wrote it with my Wall Street Journal colleague, Lingling Wei, who was the best-sourced American reporter in China until she was expelled in 2020 along with other American journalists. Our book features deep reporting in Beijing as well as Washington D.C., which distinguishes it from many works by U.S. journalists who rely too much on American sources. We focus on the trade war fought by President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.  Expect lots of scoops and details not available anywhere else.     

The Changing Legal Orders in Hong Kong and Mainland China

By Albert H. Y. Chen,

Book cover of The Changing Legal Orders in Hong Kong and Mainland China: Essays on "One Country, Two Systems"

Hong Kong, as a Special Administrative Region operating a separate system than the one in Mainland China, is a pragmatic innovation of the CCP. The author is from Hong Kong and is a law professor. His scholarship on China’s constitutional history and issues is second to none. This collection of essays reveal how the CCP created a unique entity for post-colonial Hong Kong.

Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

By Christine Loh, Richard Cullen,

Book cover of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

What is my book about?

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China's wise and pragmatic "one country, two systems" policy. Hong Kong people and the world bought those stories.

But now it is clear that the British version of the Hong Kong story no longer holds while Hong Kong people are not so sure about themselves and their future seems less bright. The city and its people are stuck--they have no compelling narrative that joins the past and the future. This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about "us" and "you", the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal "he/she/it" story--a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.

The Long March

By Sun Shuyun,

Book cover of The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth

In 1934 more than 200,000 members of the Chinese Communist Party left their bases in southern China and marched 8,000 miles across country to escape the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kaishek. The march is the founding myth of the Chinese Communist Party, but the reality, as brilliantly exposed in this book, was brutal and savage: just one-fifth survived a march that need never have taken place and which was mainly designed as a propaganda exercise to promote the leadership of Mao Zedong.


Who am I?

I only ever enjoyed one subject at school, and that was history. I read history books for pleasure, and then studied the subject at university, along with politics. As an adult, I worked in publishing and then began to write history books for myself, books to be read by both children and adults. History has remained my passion all my life, and the five books I have chosen here are just some of the many fine history books that deal with the major events of the recent 20th century. I hope you enjoy my selection.


I wrote...

Eyewitness Titanic

By Simon Adams,

Book cover of Eyewitness Titanic

What is my book about?

The sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic in April 1912 sent shockwaves around the world. The liner was on its maiden voyage and was the most luxurious ship afloat. Above all, it was considered to be “virtually unsinkable.” But a fatal collision with an iceberg sent the ship to the bottom of the sea, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew. My book on the tragedy is part of the bestselling Eyewitness series and is written for children, although adults will enjoy it too!

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

By Ezra F. Vogel,

Book cover of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Deng Xiaoping is the most important person in contemporary Chinese affairs. It was under his time as the paramount leader of China that modernization started in earnest. He judged policy effectiveness on whether it worked or not. His story is engagingly told by historian Ezra Vogel.

Who am I?

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!


I wrote...

No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

By Christine Loh, Richard Cullen,

Book cover of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

What is my book about?

British Hong Kong had a good story in the run-up to 1997. Its people worked hard and had an indomitable spirit. China had its own story about Hong Kong: after reunification, the city would prosper as never before due to China's wise and pragmatic "one country, two systems" policy. Hong Kong people and the world bought those stories.

But now it is clear that the British version of the Hong Kong story no longer holds while Hong Kong people are not so sure about themselves and their future seems less bright. The city and its people are stuck--they have no compelling narrative that joins the past and the future. This book is based on our thoughts of what a new Hong Kong story might be: a story about "us" and "you", the people who care about Hong Kong, not an impersonal "he/she/it" story--a story, moreover, to be worked out between Hong Kong and mainland China and no one else.

The World Turned Upside Down

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

Book cover of The World Turned Upside Down: A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Perspectives on one of the most bewildering and turbulent periods in modern Chinese history – the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, in the decade from 1966, by one of contemporary China’s foremost historians. Yang, who has worked on the era of the great famines in China prior to this, is well served by two excellent translators. A book that brings the vastness of this revolution down to the stories of specific people and places, including those who were most involved in creating and directing this seminal event.


Who am I?

I have been working on China as a student, teacher, diplomat, business person, and academic since 1991. 
Currently, professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London, my work involves trying to understand how the country’s deer and more recent history has created the remarkable country that we see today. I have written over 20 books on modern China, and lived there in total 5 and a half years. I have visited every single province and autonomous region, and have lectured on China in over 40 countries, across four continents.

I wrote...

China

By Kerry Brown,

Book cover of China

What is my book about?

China is poised to become the world’s largest economy in the next decade. But its great struggle to modernise has been one of tragedy, conflict, and challenge. From the first attempts to introduce Western ideas into the country two centuries ago, China’s long march to global primacy has been above all an epic fight to renew an ancient country and culture.

Sinologist Kerry Brown traces this quest for renewal through the major moments of China’s modern history. Taking the reader on a journey that includes war, revolution, famine, and finally regeneration, he describes concisely and authoritatively where China has come from, and where it is heading as it achieves great power status. This is a story that is no longer just about China, but concerns the rest of the world.

Mao's Third Front

By Covell F. Meyskens,

Book cover of Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China

Mao's Third Front is one of the first books on life and the economy in the PRC of the Cultural Revolution that marries archival research to memoirs and oral history. Largely unknown outside of China, the Third Front was a strategic relocation program of vital industries and whole cities to the country’s hinterland during the 2nd Vietnam War and the Cultural Revolution. It essentially amounted to the largest government investment program in the Mao period. Meyskens’s book manifestly shows how closely the global Cold War and local developments interacted with each other.


Who am I?

During the later Cold War, I grew up in neutral and peaceful Switzerland. My German mother’s family lived apart in divided Germany. I knew as a child that I would become a historian because I wanted to find out what had happened to my mother’s home and why there was a Cold War in the first place. My father’s service as a Swiss Red Cross delegate in Korea after 1953 raised my interest in East Asia. After learning Russian and Chinese, I wrote my first book on The Sino-Soviet Split. When I was finishing the book, I resolved to reinvent myself as a global historian, which is why I wrote my second book as a reinterpretation of the global Cold War as a series of parallel regional Cold Wars in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.


I wrote...

Cold Wars: Asia, the Middle East, Europe

By Lorenz M. Lüthi,

Book cover of Cold Wars: Asia, the Middle East, Europe

What is my book about?

What was the Cold War that shook world politics for the second half of the twentieth century? Standard narratives focus on Soviet-American rivalry as if the superpowers were the exclusive driving forces of the international system. I offer a different account, restoring agency to regional powers in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe and thereby revealing how regional and national developments shaped the course of the global Cold War.

Despite their elevated position in 1945, the United States, Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom quickly realized that their political, economic, and military power had surprisingly tight limits given the challenges of decolonization, Asian-African internationalism, pan-Arabism, pan-Islamism, Arab–Israeli antagonism, and European economic developments. As a series of Cold Wars ebbed and flowed, the three world regions underwent structural changes that weakened or even severed their links to the global ideological clash, leaving the superpower Cold War as the only major conflict that remained by the 1980s.

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