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The downfall of Bo Xilai in China was more than a darkly thrilling mystery. It revealed a cataclysmic internal power struggle between Communist Party factions, one that reached all the way to China’s new president Xi Jinping.
The scandalous story of the corruption of the Bo Xilai family - the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood; Bo’s secret lovers; the secret maneuverings of Bo’s supporters; the hasty trial and sentencing of Gu Kailai, Bo’s wife - was just the first rumble of a seismic power struggle that continues to rock the very foundation of China’s all-powerful Communist Party. By the time it is over, the machinations in Beijing and throughout the country that began with Bo’s fall could affect China’s economic development and disrupt the world’s political and economic order.
Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang have pieced together the details of this fascinating political drama from firsthand reporting and an unrivaled array of sources, some very high in the Chinese government. This was the first scandal in China to play out in the international media - details were leaked, sometimes invented, to non-Chinese news outlets as part of the power plays that rippled through the government. The attempt to manipulate the Western media, especially, was a fundamental dimension to the story, and one that affected some of the early reporting.
A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel returns to the scene of the crime and shows not only what happened in Room 1605 but how the threat of the story was every bit as important in the life and death struggle for power that followed. It touched celebrities and billionaires and redrew the cast of the new leadership of the Communist Party. The ghost of Neil Heywood haunts China to this day.
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- Amazon Customer
history repeats itself
absolutely fascinating and very thought provoking. made me look at my own society, it's history from rotten boroughs to banking scandals. no matter how many checks and balances there are, people will try to circumvent them. besides, regulations are only brought in after a scandal/fraud has been discovered. corruption is a never ending blight on all societies.
China is a huge country, like Russia, with a long history and major political upheavals in the 20th century. what sparked those cataclysmic changes, unless addressed, could happen again.
what the most tragic element is that the system itself corrupts and stifles any talent or any real desire to actually improve, reform or punish those who break it's laws. capitalism does not work in a one-party state, it is difficult enough to control in a democracy!
lastly, it was very interesting to see how the individuals disintegrated under the power and wealth they accumulated. as an old saying goes 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely '.
Extremely satisfying and comprehensive
This book was so much deeper and more detailed than I expected. What a satisfying read! I was looking for something about the Bo Xilai incident, an event which already seems outlandish on the surface. The outline of the story is well-known - English man found dead of apparent poisoning in a backwater hotel in central China in 2011; wife of rising political star Bo Xilai is implicated and eventually found guilty; rising political star sidelined. Oh, that's all? Of course I wanted to know more.
Ho and Huang's book begins with the familiar story, then separates the players into concentric circles, going into the biographies of everyone involved. For some readers, this may be offtrack and excess to the plot. But, as the title implies, the book is about the struggle for power and control in a changing China. And it does not disappoint. The authors explore the predicament of post-revolutionary China, hemmed in by generational "royalty" as the sons and daughters of Mao-era notables evolve into a new type of elite class. The details are fascinating and at times salacious, but they create a kind of family tree revealing the impact of a relatively small cast of characters in the post-Mao era. The authors indicate sources seamlessly within the narrative, which I really appreciate - as a reader, you can parse the relative credibility as you go.
Among the takeaways - Bo Xilai was taking bribes into the billions (yes, billions!) of RMB, oversaw the state execution of hundreds of the guilty and innocent alike, yet is still a folk hero to the populace in Chong Qing. Bo Xilai's fall from power ultimately made the way for Xi Jinping's ascendency. And current Party Secretary Xi Jinping lived in a cave for seven years. I know it reads like a script from Game of Thrones, but if you are interested in Chinese history or current events (or a context with which to view Xi Jinping), then you will love this book.
The narrator James Chen is fantastic - clearly a speaker of Chinese so that names are pronounced properly, how refreshing.
1 person found this helpful
- Robin Charleston
Entertaining but unnecessarily long
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Some of the time was well-spent, I suppose, but the book seemed far too long -- padded out with details that were unnecessary to the plot and in some instances irrelevant.
Would you ever listen to anything by Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang again?
What three words best describe James Chen’s voice?
Do you think A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No. Nothing sufficiently incomplete or interesting to warrant follow-up.