Of Leaders and Governance: How the Chinese Dragon Got Its Scales

Timothy Cheek, University of British Columbia

Ezra Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011, 928 pp. $40 (cloth).

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It may be best to begin this big book at the end. To find out what this hefty volume (some 700 pages of text and over 130 pages of appendices and notes) has to offer, the last chapter (chapter 24) serves well. Here Ezra Vogel spells out what his decade-long effort to chronicle the political life of post-Mao China’s preeminent leader, Deng Xiaoping, has produced. The book begins with Vogel’s promised mission: “I wanted to write a book to help Americans understand key developments in Asia” (xi). Chapter 24 enumerates the help Vogel has to offer his chosen audience, having taken the political career of Deng from the 1970s until his death in 1997 as his window into the transformations of Asia’s largest country and now-dominant power...