The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin by Robert Lawrence Kuhn - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Towing the Party Line

The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin


Crown Publishers 709pp $35 order from our bookshop

This biography of the ex-President of China and ex-Chairman of its Communist Party could have been written by the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party. In fact it was written by an American stockbroker with a doctorate in anatomy and, by his own admission, business interests in China, who, unlike professional propagandists, probably believes every misleading word he writes. As he says, ‘I root for China, like a loyal fan of a local sports team.’

In his own day, Mao was hailed as ‘the Red Red Sun in Our Hearts’. Nowadays, leaders are supposed to exhibit modesty, honesty, family love, deep cultural awareness, vision, patriotism and firmness, but not brutality. Naturally, much will be omitted from their biographies, especially ones designed for foreigners, who are

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