Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China is a bulky book. Running at over 900 pages it is an intimidating sight, and not just because Deng’s sombre looking portrait adorns its cover. I still picked up this biography in the silver jubilee year of the leader’s demise not because of any nostalgia for the man but to understand how the world’s most populated country transformed its fortunes in a single generation.
Despite reading several academic papers by economists and lifelong Asia watchers, I was struggling to form a coherent picture of what really happened in China in the 1980s. That’s one reason I read this tome: the subject reigned over a country when it finally realised its promise. One must however be careful to not ascribe this entire ‘transformation’ to one man alone. A country of over 1 billion people can simply not run at the whims of its leader…
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