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Mao's Last Dancer | [Li Cunxin]

Mao's Last Dancer

This is the true story of how one moment in time, by the thinnest thread of a chance, changed the course of a small boy's life in ways that are beyond description. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a president and first lady, movie stars, and the most influential people in America. One day he would become a star: Mao's last dancer, and the darling of the West.
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Publisher's Summary

This is the true story of how one moment in time, by the thinnest thread of a chance, changed the course of a small boy's life in ways that are beyond description. One day he would dance with some of the greatest ballet companies of the world. One day he would be a friend to a president and first lady, movie stars, and the most influential people in America. One day he would become a star: Mao's last dancer, and the darling of the West. Here is Li Cunxin's own story, a beautiful, rich account of an inspirational life, told with honesty, dignity, and pride.

©2003 Li Cunxin; (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pyt Ltd by arrangement with Penguin Group (Australia)

What the Critics Say

"[A] heartening rags-to-riches story." (Publishers Weekly)
"[Paul English] exercises such an intense and masterful concentration on the text that the listener's interest never flags....He imbues the narrative with ingenuousness and enthusiasm, which endearingly befit the image Li is attempting to present of himself. The result is an audiobook that is superior to its source." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (295 )
5 star
 (159)
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2 star
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4.6 (95 )
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4.5 (98 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela Fairbanks, AK, USA 01-29-06
    Pamela Fairbanks, AK, USA 01-29-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Life in perspective"

    As someone who is neither a dancer nor well educated about life in China during the Cultural Revolution, the information in this book was out of my usual interest zone, and I am so glad that the Audible blurb caught my attention and lured me in! This is a fascinating book, and despite its length it captured my attention throughout. I kept having to remind myself that Li Cunxin is slightly younger than I am, although the experiences of his childhood and youth sound as though they must have occured a century before. Compared to the freedom and comfort of average American life in the past four decades, Li's life was grim. However, his attitude, determination, and family support are all the more inspring because of how much he had to overcome. I highly recommend this book. While the narrator's voice is wonderful, I would have preferred an Asian narrator, because the British accent at times became overwhelming. I am a visual listener, and I had trouble visualizing a young Chinese male when listening to this narrator. Other than that, I have no reservations about this book. I just wish I could have the opportunity to see Li dance!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Filmguy NY 02-14-06
    Filmguy NY 02-14-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    21
    3
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    "Way Beyond Dance"

    I first passed up this gem because I had no interest in dance much less the world of ballet. What a mistake that was. Li Cunxin takes you into the fascinating lives of peasants in rural socialist China under Mao and his struggles to find his way in a dangerous and changing world. His story is unique, totally engaging and extraordinary. This autobiography is far from simple rags-to-riches success story. His style is down-to-earth and crafted with artistry. The book is beautifully narrated and I remained totally engaged from beginning to end.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek Sunnyvale, CA, USA 12-05-07
    Derek Sunnyvale, CA, USA 12-05-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    2
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    "A Life Story Beautifully Told"

    As a Chinese American born in Taiwan, I can relate to the Chinese custom and tradition in the story. But I was struck by the poverty living in the Communist China in that era.

    The story was truly inspirational. It taught us that determination combined with hard work paves the way to greatness. And yet Li's deeply-rooted Chinese family values and love for his family still came through all along. This is the "hero's journey" at its best.

    The narration was excellent. At times, I thought there were several people speaking for each role. The British/Australian accent didn't take much time to get used to and the pronunciation of Chinese names were pretty good.

    This is among one of the best memoirs I have listened to.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nadine Alexandria, VA, United States 03-24-07
    Nadine Alexandria, VA, United States 03-24-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    89
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    "Beautiful!"

    This is the most beautiful book. The Narrator is so good and the book is fantastic. The words come alive. You can feel the damp chilly dance studio, taste the dumplings and feel the cold wind on your face.

    I love the richness of this book and the insight into life in Mao's China. This is a MUST Listen in my book. Do not pass it by.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    click-n 09-09-10
    click-n 09-09-10 Member Since 2008
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    1
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    "Excellent Book"

    My friends couldn't understand why I would liked a book so much about a Chinese ballet dancer. This is the ultimate rags to riches story. The narration was superb. This is one of my favorite books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aubrey Norco, CA, United States 05-17-10
    Aubrey Norco, CA, United States 05-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So Much more than I expected"

    This books was nothing of what I expected. I laughed, I cried, I cheered and held my breath. I was caught up into the story until I felt apart of the family. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It inspired me to push myself as a person and opened my eyes to China of the early 1900's. I consider this a must listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monique waikanae, New Zealand 03-26-10
    Monique waikanae, New Zealand 03-26-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    10
    5
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    "got me hooked"

    I too found the narrator very difficult to get used to and only in the second half felt I could settle into his style. But I loved the book, it inspired me and opened my heart and my mind in so many ways. Wonderful!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Pereira 12-04-09 Member Since 2009
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    6
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    "A compelling story"

    This story gives an excellent insight into life in China in the 70s and 80s experienced though the life of a peasant boy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy J. Hyde Berthoud, CO United States 08-08-08
    Nancy J. Hyde Berthoud, CO United States 08-08-08 Member Since 2006
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    "In My Top 3 Favorite Books"

    I loved this book. It was captivating all the way to the end....and I didn't want it to end! It gave an insight of the common people living in the Mao era and the will to succeed, and what individuals and their families had to endure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Parker, CO USA 04-04-08
    Deborah Parker, CO USA 04-04-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Has the "ring" of truth"

    Having been to China during the time period covered in this book, and more recently - this book seemed very "on point" to me. I enjoyed the pure wonder that the main character - a newcomer to the "west" - experienced in America and would highly recommend this to anyone wishing to take a look behind the "bamboo curtain". Very, very interesting and insightful read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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