Deng Xiaoping

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Deng Xiaoping

By Uli Franz
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988
340 pp. $21.95
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Since communist countries perceive all history as the chronicle of class struggle, and not of individuals, they are usually reluctant to provide information about the personal lives of their leaders. In this biography Franz discusses much that was previously unclear or unknown about Deng's early life. The son of a wealthy landowner, Deng spent six years as a student-worker in Paris learning revolutionary techniques. We read about his family (he was married three times), his early friendship with Zhou Enlai and his clashes with Mao over the "hundred flowers" experiment and the Cultural Revolution. Franz's book raises more questions than it answers (how did Deng's father respond to his son's revolutionary activities?), and his analysis is sometimes simplistic. Still, at this point, any contribution to our understanding of one of China's most important leaders is welcome.

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