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The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers [Kindle Edition]

Richard McGregor
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Few outsiders have any realistic sense of the innards, motives, rivalries, and fears of the Chinese Communist leadership. But we all know much more than before, thanks to Richard McGregor’s illuminating and richly-textured look at the people in charge of China’s political machinery.... Invaluable.” — James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic

The Party is Financial Times reporter Richard McGregor’s eye-opening investigation into China’s Communist Party, and the integral role it has played in the country’s rise as a global superpower and rival to the United States. Many books have examined China’s economic rise, human rights record, turbulent history, and relations with the U.S.; none until now, however, have tackled the issue central to understanding all of these issues: how the ruling communist government works. The Party delves deeply into China’s secretive political machine.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. McGregor, a journalist at the Financial Times, begins his revelatory and scrupulously reported book with a provocative comparison between China™s Communist Party and the Vatican for their shared cultures of secrecy, pervasive influence, and impenetrability. The author pulls back the curtain on the Party to consider its influence over the industrial economy, military, and local governments. McGregor describes a system operating on a Leninist blueprint and deeply at odds with Western standards of management and transparency. Corruption and the tension between decentralization and national control are recurring themes--and are highlighted in the Party™s handling of the disturbing Sanlu case, in which thousands of babies were poisoned by contaminated milk powder. McGregor makes a clear and convincing case that the 1989 backlash against the Party, inexorable globalization, and technological innovations in communication have made it incumbent on the Party to evolve, and this smart, authoritative book provides valuable insight into how it has--and has not--met the challenge.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This is a marvellous and finely written study of how China is really run, and how its strange but successful system of Leninist capitalism really works. It should be read by anyone doing business with or just trying to understand China.”

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
124 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Through a series of anecdotes and interviews, largely drawn from his eight years in China as correspondent for 'The Financial Times', Richard McGregor illustrates 'the Party', a remarkable social organization which subordinates 1.3 billion people.

It is a journalist's treatment rather than academic, so instead of explicitly offering analysis, Richard McGregor lets his interviews and stories largely speak for themselves. This provides a range of interesting characters, quotes and anecdotes. However, a side-effect is that many remarkable insights are either buried innocuously in the text or left to the reader's inference. The story is no less fascinating for it.

The picture that emerges is of a creative, adaptable, self-aware and resilient social network. Made up of 75 million party members, one in twelve adult Chinese, this self-perpetuating elite has no legal form beyond a mention in the preamble to China's constitution. The party exists outside the regular state apparatus and operates like a controller chip grafted into China's governing structures through party cells throughout government, the military, public companies and even private firms.

Grounded in its near ubiquitous presence in the state, military, public and private spheres, the Party maintains its grip via a number of interconnected and synergistic processes. Its personnel system allows any individual to be replaced, transferred or expelled at the will of the organism. Party control of the military provides ultimate coercive sanction. The Party's discipline system places members above the law even as it strengthens Party control of the behaviour of its members.
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85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Party August 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I spent the last four years living in China, serving as the president of a Chinese bank. That role took me to 44 cities all across China, where I met hundreds of government officials and Party members. I worked daily with the General Secretary of the bank's Party Committee. During my time in China I read every major book by any foreigner who had lived and worked in China. Richard's book, The Party, is the most insightful book I have encountered. If you wish to understand how China is run today and you only have time to read one book, then read this one.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality underneath the facade April 22, 2011
By jbd
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book will change your understanding of China. McGregor's main theme is that China is coming to look more and more like Western societies on the surface, with similar market and other institutions--but as he shows repeatedly, under the surface the country still runs on Soviet hardware. He tells his story with panache.

Most fascinating and original is how he describes the continuing control the party still has over the commanding heights of the economy, particularly over publicly traded companies. The book is brimming with fascinating anecdotes to back up its claims. I particularly enjoyed the story of how the Party decided to simply switch the management teams of two publicly traded companies that were competing against each other in the same industry, practically overnight; it's as if you awoke one morning to find that the top management of Ford and GM had simply switched places with each other. Dorothy, this isn't Kansas.

The highest praise for a book on current affairs is that it will change the way you think, and what you understand when you read the newspaper. This book accomplishes both.

I'm baffled as to how anyone could give it fewer than five stars. Yes, it doesn't tell a seemless story, but that's not the nature of the material. A fun and penetrating read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting stories but not particularly cohesive January 4, 2011
By Robert
I enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about China and a lot about the impact of the Communist party since it took power in 1949 (?). But I was ultimately unsatisfied for 2 reasons:

One, it felt more like a collection of interesting stories and less like a coherent book. The stories of particular episodes in China did not seem to follow any time line or any other organizational structure. I struggled to understand how the stories related to each other or whatever connections were implied. The stories seemed to jump between periods in China that didn't make any sense to me. That said, each episode was interesting and educational.

Two, I kept expecting for the author to explain to the reader why China is thriving. He provides a wealth of details about how corrupt the system is from the highest levels in Beijing to the lowest levels in each town/province/whatever. He details how "the party" influences almost every economic decision that gets made. He makes various statements about how this or that leader opened up China to market reforms and private property rights but in the same breath details how government at every level influences decisions. I walked away from this book still scratching my head as to how China has grown in the past 30-ish years. I'm still trying to figure that out.

Read this book for interesting insights into China over the past 60 years. But don't expect to have any better understanding of the big picture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great intro. to Chinese politics
An excellent introduction to Chinese politics and modern political history. I've lived in China for years now but, before that, this book served as my guide to their political... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Dis Appointed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Most insiteful book on china I have ever read
Published 20 days ago by CG
5.0 out of 5 stars Good detail of party control
a bit repetitive, but okay.
Published 20 days ago by Collin Spears
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
College Book for daughter
Published 1 month ago by Robin
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended reading for anyone working in China, investing in...
This is one of the most well researched and chronicled books on the impact that the Communist Party has over all things in China. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Canuck in Asia
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for understanding China. A little bumpy ...
A must read for understanding China. A little bumpy read at times, but the picture drawn for the reader is very, very sobering.
Published 6 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars No time soon ....
There is no need to add to the praise of McGregor's work other than to say he brought with him a Sovietologist background when he turned to the Chinese Communist Party that allowed... Read more
Published 7 months ago by wsmrer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good deal
Published 8 months ago by Long Yingxian
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting insights
many China books do not spend the time looking beyond the cover story that this one does and fall for exactly the traps this author points out. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Holly Schaffter
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read.
The leit-motif of this book is the ‘red-phone’ on the desks of senior executives in Chinese companies. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Hugh Claffey
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An interview with Richard McGregor
Thanks for the tip...that link is dead now, but I found the interview here...
Jun 13, 2011 by Amazon Customer |  See all 2 posts
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