Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garnaut, 2013. Rise and Fall of the House of Bo (biography, political history)

This is a fascinating peek behind the bamboo curtain, and an entertaining way to come up to speed on some of the big Family names that still make Chinese politics.  Garneau is an award-winning Australian journalist who has been in China long enough to read and speak fluently, and he seems to be very well informed. I won’t try to summarize all the twists and turns, but this book describes the passage of generations from the “immortals” of the long march to their princeling sons who directed the Cultural Revolution, and who are now in their sixties. At bottom, it appears to be a struggle between rule of law (perhaps with equal opportunity) and hypocritical red-singing enthusiasm for the glory-days of Mao, while party leaders rake off hundreds of millions of dollars for their families. Bo Xilai,it is alleged, was in the latter camp, but one feels that there are few innocents amongst the powerful in China. 

When the electronic devices have to go off, this neat little book was just long enough for three take-offs and two landings.
David Last, 8 February, 2014 

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