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The Man on Mao's Right: From Harvard Yard to Tiananmen Square, My Life Inside China's Foreign Ministry | [Ji Chaozhu]

The Man on Mao's Right: From Harvard Yard to Tiananmen Square, My Life Inside China's Foreign Ministry

No other narrative from within the corridors of power has offered as frank and intimate an account of the making of the modern Chinese nation as Ji Chaozhu's The Man on Mao's Right. Having served Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist leadership for two decades, and having become a key figure in China's foreign policy, Ji now provides an honest, detailed account of the personalities and events that shaped today's People's Republic.
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Publisher's Summary

No other narrative from within the corridors of power has offered as frank and intimate an account of the making of the modern Chinese nation as Ji Chaozhu's The Man on Mao's Right. Having served Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist leadership for two decades, and having become a key figure in China's foreign policy, Ji now provides an honest, detailed account of the personalities and events that shaped today's People's Republic. The youngest son of a prosperous government official, nine-year-old Ji and his family fled Japanese invaders in the late 1930s, escaping to America. Warmly received by his new country, Ji returned its embrace as he came of age in New York's East Village and then attended Harvard University. But in 1950, after years of enjoying a life of relative ease while his countrymen suffered through war and civil strife, Ji felt driven by patriotism to volunteer to serve China in its conflict with his adoptive country in the Korean War. Ji's mastery of the English language and American culture launched his improbable career, eventually winning him the role of English interpreter for China's two top leaders: Premier Zhou Enlai and Party Chairman Mao Zedong. With a unique blend of Chinese insight and American candor, Ji paints insightful portraits of the architects of modern China: the urbane, practical, and avuncular Zhou, the conscience of the People's Republic; and the messianic, charismatic Mao, student of China's ancient past---his country's stern father figure. Ji is an eyewitness to modern Chinese history, including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Nixon summit, and numerous momentous events in Tiananmen Square. As he became caught up in political squabbles among radical factions, Ji's past and charges against him of "incorrect" thinking subjected him to scrutiny and suspicion. He was repeatedly sent to a collective farm to be "reeducated" by the peasants.

©2008 Chaozhu Ji; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A true 'fly-on-the-wall' account of the momentous changes in Chinese society and international relations over the last century." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (57 )
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4.3 (28 )
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  •  
    Adam San Francisco, CA, USA 03-27-10
    Adam San Francisco, CA, USA 03-27-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Very enlightening"

    I teach modern Chinese history to high school students and this audiobook has been very helpful in understanding this chapter in China's history. The unique perspective of the author's time in America as a college student and his eventual return to Beijing gives a nuanced, informative outlook that illuminates the 100 Flowers Bloom movement, the Great Leap Forward (Backward, really), and the intensity and insanity of the Cultural Revolution. Very engaging to listen to on my commute every day.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Beijing 03-14-10
    David Beijing 03-14-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Phenomenal"

    This is one of the best books I've ever "read." The reader butchers some of the Chinese names a bit, but the story is absolutely gripping. I've read a lot of books about China and this might be the best.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allan Morristown, NJ, United States 01-13-10
    Allan Morristown, NJ, United States 01-13-10
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    "Excellent!"

    I've been a member since 10/07 and have heard (read) over 30 books since then. The overwhelming majority have been of the non-fiction, historical type. That being said, I just finished a few days with this one and, for the 1st time, went directly to my computer to write this review. This is an absolutely amazing book. It is well-written (after all, the author went to Harvard, not me), well-narrated, and this is an exceptional story. I can't recommend this one highly enough.....it is the best one I've experienced. Get it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-23-11
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-23-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Good for China Beginners"

    This is the memoir of someone who worked in the Chinese foreign service during and after the Mao era, and still resides in China with his family. The result is a book that gives a moderate version of the official Communist Party story of Chinese history and diplomacy in the 20th century.

    Someone who doesn't know much about recent Chinese history would probably learn quite a bit. The book would be especially helpful for someone who couldn't imagine why the Chinese government joined the Korean War, or why Taiwan has been made such an issue--and why most people in China agree with the government position on these topics. As someone already quite familiar with the history, I didn't get any new information from this book.

    The author's description of his personal experiences are rather monotonous, without much reflection or psychological detail. Expect to spend a lot of time hearing about the health problems of every member of his family. His political insights are limited to categorizing all the people he discusses as either good (Zhou Enlai, Peng Dehuai, Deng Xiaoping) or bad (Mao, the Gang of Four, and their supporters), and so he explains political events by attributing them to whether the "good" or "bad" people happened to be in control of government at that time. This was much too simplistic for me to feel that the book had deepened my understanding of how the tumultuous politics of the Mao years really worked.

    The narrator made some effort to learn how to pronounce Chinese, so about half the names came out fairly well (except for the tones), and half are mangled. This is still better than most audiobooks on China.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted McLean Houston, tx, US 10-04-11
    Ted McLean Houston, tx, US 10-04-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Great insight"

    We listened to this during a trip to China, and it helped us understand some of the politics behind this incredible country, both good and bad. A definite must for those who want to see many sides of the story into what it was like to live in Mao's China.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Lehi, UT, United States 11-20-10
    Timothy Lehi, UT, United States 11-20-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Highly recommended"

    This is a great book. I enjoyed learning about China through the balanced perspective of someone who obviously has a great deal of love for both the US and China, as well as someone who has held many important positions in the Chinese government.

    One letdown is the lack of serious reflection about the events of Tiananmen Square. Still, there are many things about recent Chinese history that I did not know before listening to this book, such as the attempted assassination of Premiere Zhou Enlai by US backed Taiwanese forces.

    Overall an intriguing story, well told!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Lee California 06-16-12
    J. Lee California 06-16-12 Member Since 2009

    Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Oh China! Fascinating and enlightening."

    This man lived through some of the most hair raising situations. His life, in and out of China is an amazing ride through the highest peaks and the deepest valleys. The fact that he did not give up is a testament to his will and patience. He does very little editorializing and allows the reader and history to make the judgements about all sides. I came away with not only a better understanding of China but also of our governments actions over the last 50 or so years. If you want to know where our world is going, especially with regard to China, this is a must read. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Woodbridge, VA, United States 06-08-12
    Kelly Woodbridge, VA, United States 06-08-12 Member Since 2011

    I am a lover of good stories, a mom, a wife, and an educator.

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    "Very interesting perspective"

    I so thoroughly enjoyed the story of this man's life and times that I would sometimes forget "the source." The story of Ji's life in America and his eventual return to China and rise to high office within China's foreign ministry was fascinating. Ji Chaozhu criticized communist China just enough to make it believable, and did not skirt the issues of his own suffering, though I expect it was far greater than he described. Within the story, he deified Zhou Enlai and disparaged Mao, which would be the acceptable rhetoric for a good cadre of that time and place.

    It is worth noting that he is a communist through-and-through and this is probably the most interesting aspect of the book. I believe that his devotion to China and the party were (for the most part, or at least in the beginning) sincere. He spoke as a Chinese citizen would only dare speak on the world stage--carefully and reverently about his homeland, the Party, and the leadership. Even so, the story of his life, the historical figures who cross his path, and the events from his perspective were exciting to observe. I highly recommend this book, though one must listen through the veil of communist rhetoric.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Duarte, CA, United States 05-05-12
    Bob Duarte, CA, United States 05-05-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Fascinating history of modern China from inside"

    A fascinating account of the rise and reform of the communist movement in China from the inside. It is written from the point of view of a Chinese official who became more and more concerned about the direction Mao was taking the country. As an American, I don't agree with everything in the book. Any westerner who wants to understand modern China should get this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brian cincinnati, OH, United States 03-10-14
    brian cincinnati, OH, United States 03-10-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Torn between two countries."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Man on Mao's Right to be better than the print version?

    I would.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Man on Mao's Right?

    The one where the head of a Chinese deligation was stopped for a knife in his bag at the airport.


    What does Norman Dietz bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent narration.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not an extreme reaction.


    Any additional comments?

    None.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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