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Mao's Last Dancer Audiobook

Mao's Last Dancer

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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

4.5 (702 )
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4.6 (459 )
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4.6 (463 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lori 01-31-09
    Lori 01-31-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating glimpse into the end of an empire"

    This is an excellent, fascinating story of one of the last dancers to come out of the Mao regime. His story was interesting to me on several levels. On the most basic level that almost anyone can enjoy is the unfolding of a cultural revolution in China while being emotionally involved in the story of a key player. A young boy is taken from his village (that had no power or running water!) to train in the old communist system to become one of the world's most celebrated dancers. Realizing that this man is not yet 50 and his ability to experience the cultural changes that have overtaken China within his lifetime is nothing short of mind boggling.

    I have to say that I am perplexed at why they do not have an Asian narrating this story, or at least a reader with an Asian accent which would have made this much more authentic for me. The narrator was not bad and after reading the name of the title character in print, I was glad to let someone else do the pronunciations for me, but still...

    Because I am a dancer/choreographer, the performer in me enjoyed the artistic exploration of the story. Ben Stevenson, the current artistic director of the DFW Ballet is a key person here and I have seen both him and his work several times, so that was an added level of interest.

    While not the best literary work, it is a fascinating story and very credit worthy.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 03-25-07
    Rio Delta Wild Harlingen, TX 03-25-07 Member Since 2004

    I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a window into Mao's China"

    Thank you, Li, for setting down your story for us. With doors and windows to China closed to the west for so long, many of us have wished to understand about the changes which took place for people in China. I appreciate your honesty, and how your story is presented. This will become a classic story, suitable for all ages. Your children, family, and each of those who assisted throughout your life can be proud of this wonderful recounting. I, too, would enjoy the tale narrated by an oriental reader, hopefully, someday soon that will also be available.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Villere New Orleans, LA, United States 09-02-11
    G Villere New Orleans, LA, United States 09-02-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Life under Mao"

    This autobiography about Li Cunxin's life is much more than a story about an incredible ballet dancer. Life as a peasant under Mao and the propaganda about the Eastern world is simply unbelievable. You don't have to know anything about ballet or to even be interested in ballet to enjoy this beautiful story. It was simple yet powerful.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Pereira 12-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jena SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 03-26-11
    Jena SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 03-26-11
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    "Enjoyable but not memorable"

    A nice biography for people who know nothing about China and like a good story that ends well.

    - Overall a nice rags-to-riches, well-tied up story. You won't find many surprises here, but it will satisfy and is appropriate for kids - though kids younger than 10 or 11 might get lost.
    - The political commentary and historical events seen through the eyes of the narrator, combined with the observations on American vs. Chinese cultures, are telling.
    - First ~3 hours of the story is a summary of the narrator's childhood, which is uneventful for the most part except for some social commentary on the state of Chinese peasant life. For readers, happy childhoods are not typically interesting enough to warrant this much time. Fast forwarding through most of this will do you no harm in understanding the rest of the story.
    - Story is riddled by instances of deus ex machina: The main character's major struggles are conveniently solved by hands of Providence (or in his case, the President of the United States - yawn) which reach down at the last minute to save him.
    - Cliche ("scared out of my wits") phrases abound here. I seek new and fresh metaphors, so I'll admit a bias. This may not bother some readers/listeners.
    - Main character, who is also the author, comes across as spoiled and pompous at times, which reduces his credibility and thus the reader's sympathy.

    Good story, but not in my Top 10.

    13 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.P. Olympia, WA, United States 01-04-12
    L.P. Olympia, WA, United States 01-04-12

    levipaul

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    "Not for me"

    I'm sure the book is good, but I think it was a bit too slow for me. The entire Cultural Revolution can be an interesting topic, but just like how one can love or hate a particular high school class because of the teacher, one can like or dislike an audiobook from the reader. I'm not insulting him as an individual at all. The British accent while reading this didn't work for me in the first place and his pronunciation of the Mandarin words was off - a lot.

    I'm sure the story is great, but it was moving just too slowly for me.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deanna Andover, MA, USA 05-25-08
    Deanna Andover, MA, USA 05-25-08 Member Since 2010
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    "Wrong narrator"

    The narrator was good in his reading of the book, but he had the wrong accent. I kept forgetting the main character was Asian. He just didn't fit the book in this case.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Montgomery, AL, USA 03-02-09
    Michael Montgomery, AL, USA 03-02-09
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    "Ham Sandwiches"

    Ah, I dearly enjoyed this book... For a native-born American like myself, this was a unique portrait into the life of a man whose youth was much more difficult than my own, from a culture that is diametrically opposed to many of the ideals central to the America that I know. And yet I can relate to his life's story; because from beginning to end, the strongest theme in Mao's Last Dancer is the importance of family. Initially, that drew me in-- and from there, Li Cunxin took me on a journey with him, across the world and through some of the most important historical events of the past century.

    Paul English provides fantastic narration here. His accent may not be Chinese, but his emotions are true; and as any audiobook fan knows, if the reader gets that part right, we can fill in the rest. Bravo, sir.

    I would also like to recommend scrambled eggs. When properly cooked, they are rich and delicious; and I can recommend them to almost anyone.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffery Hinckley 06-04-16 Member Since 2016
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    "AMAZING"

    Wonderfully written! narrative was great! easy to listen too! liked the book a lot. great!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Star 02-13-16
    Star 02-13-16
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    "Striking"

    The story is astonishing! How pure hard work and a bit of luck bring someone from poverty to success. This is a very inspiring story.
    The narrator makes a huge contribution to make this story funnier.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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