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Summary

One day, not so very many years ago, a small peasant boy was chosen to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy. His mother urged him to take this chance of a lifetime. But Li was only eleven years old and he was scared and lonely, pushed away from all that he had ever known and loved. He hated the strict training routines and the strange place he had been brought to. All he wanted to do was go home - to his mother, father, and six brothers, to his own small village. But soon Li realised that his mother was right. He had the chance to do something special with his life - and he never turned back.

©2003 Li Cunxin (P)2006 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic reviews

"Plucked from poverty, Li Cunxin was brought to Beijing to learn ballet. Later, after defecting, he became a principal dancer in both the Houston and the Australian Ballets, ultimately becoming world renowned. Paul English's crisp accents march precisely through Chinese pronunciations and the difficult stories of Li's early life in Quingdao. Occasionally, English pauses on emotional peaks, portraying, for example, Li's fear when his mother faints from hunger and his loneliness while adjusting to life at the dance school. Mostly, English's level narration allows listeners to imagine the contrasts of Li's life - his incomprehension of the wealth and freedom he sees while visiting the U.S. And, soon after, his struggle to attain them." ( AudioFile Magazine)

What listeners say about Mao's Last Dancer

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Very moving story

Beautiful story of a brave spirit that never gave up against a background of the rigours of Communist China. Historically fascinating.

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Inspiring

An informative, entertaining, evocative and inspiring story. I listened to this over several days and was captivated. Peasant China and Mao's 'Cultural Revolution' were especially informative areas and were dealt with in detail but I felt the ending a little rushed and sparse. Perhaps this was because 75% of the story is captivating due to the colourful and at times bizarre 'foreign' and 'exotic' setting. Once the story shifts to the West and focuses more on bureaucracy and politics, the pace was lost. Given the autobiographical nature of the book this is unavoidable but despite my criticism, Mao's Last Dancer is well worth experiencing - in any format.

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Maos last Dancer

A moving story of a courageous young man and his family i have spent had to go to rural china his description transported me there. He describes the people i've been loving and kind which they are

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Not only for young adults....

I discovered this book by accident among the special offers with which Audible tempts us! If you're likely to be put off by the fact that it's about ballet, please don't be. The book starts with a short introduction (very short) about China's later history and goes on not only to describe the author's early life of hardship but adds a wealth of information about superstition and general background.

I had not realised to what extent Mao was a god to the people and the well-being of the state paramount. I have never read anything which portrays this so well. Li's removal from his family to ballet school (very late by western standards) is touching and the discipline of the school makes it like a prison. Li's attitude to western people when he first meets them is fascinating....

So there's much more about Chinese life than about ballet, and it's very well read and goes along at a good pace.

I have been trying to get all my friends to read it and hope that you will, too!

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  • Simone Reis
  • 13-06-20

Great story!

It has been a great pleasure hearing this story. It is well crafted, the life lessons are incredible, the sojourn wonderful. Well done!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-05-20

Loved it!

To think that somebody can write this way on his second language.., the story line is great.
I went looking for the book after watching the movie, movie that I found by happy happenstance. Definitely a favorite.

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  • jemima Littlemore
  • 08-03-20

Best book ever

A beautiful and touching true story of a peasant boy who is an amazing dancer and becomes wealthy and happy

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  • BPJones
  • 30-07-17

Excellent book!

I enjoyed how the story gives insight into China during Mao from the point of view of a young peasant boy thrown into the role of a dancer. The story line was captivating from a historical point of view as well as inspirational and entertaining. I would most definitely recommend this book!

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  • Natasha
  • 29-10-13

Happiness rising from the injustise

Where does Mao's Last Dancer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Tie first. It was first last week but then I completed "The Condition".

What was one of the most memorable moments of Mao's Last Dancer?

The story about the man who "died" because he choked on an egg and then came to life after a robber punched him in the stomach.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was interesting, heartwarming, exciting, both sad and happy.

Any additional comments?

I would like to listen to it in one sitting again and again, okay and maybe a couple more agains.

Other memorable moments:

Him breaking his pencil trying to write for the first time.

When he breaks his mother's new plates trying to make her a surprise meal.

When his parent's get applauded at the first performances of his they get to watch in America. And that curtain rise was kept on hold until they arrived.

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  • Bonnie
  • 01-06-16

True inspiration

What an amazing inspirational story, we need more people as Mr. Li to help us understand the strengths the people of China have. Thank You Mr. Li !!!