Books about famous Chinese people

Read about well known Chinese people who have left permanent marks in Chinese history. For students who can not read Chinese, there are a large number of books written in English. 

So far, April has picked two must read books. Students can get tremendous insights into the intricate details about China by reading just these two books. More recommendations will be added gradually. 

Mao Zedong

(By Jonathan Spence)

Mao Zedong has stimulated tons of interests in the world. If anyone wants to know a rough sketch of Mao’s life and his impact, not the secrets nobody knows, but the main stories, the ups and downs during his life time, and some insightful accounts, this is the book to read. 

We are informed about Mao Zedong’s humble origins, and how he rose to absolute power. We will also have an idea of what China was like, a vast country torn apart by years of wars and colonialism, followed by devastating political movements. 

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

(By Ezra F. Vogel)

This book gives a comprehensive articulation about Deng Xiaoping’s life which is systematically narrated within a broad context of world political and economical developments, and how, in his life time, China was transformed to the current economic powerhouse.

Moreover, this book presents multi-dimensional accounts and in-depth analyses on many sensitive events and issues, such as the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong’s cult of personality, and, in particular, the events leading to the eventual crackdown in Beijing. Published in 2011, more than twenty years after the 1989 Movement, this book is able to assess what had happened, what options there were, and discuss the far-reaching consequences. 


April Zhang
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