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Bo Xilai's breathtaking fall from grace in 2012 is an extraordinary tale of excess, murder, defection and ideological clashes, as the princeling sons of the revolutionary heroes fight for control of China.

2013 Walkley Book Award Finalist
When news of the murder trial of prominent Communist Party leader Bo Xilai's wife reached Western attention, it was apparent that, as with many events in the secretive upper echelons of Chinese politics, there was more to the story. Now, as the Party's 18th National Congress oversees the biggest leadership transition in decades, and installs the Bo family's long-time rival Xi Jinping as president, China's rulers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their poisonous internal divisions behind closed doors.

Bo Xilai's breathtaking fall from grace is an extraordinary tale of excess, murder, defection, political purges and ideological clashes going back to Mao himself, as the princeling sons of the revolutionary heroes ascend to control of the Party. China watcher John Garnaut examines how Bo's stellar rise through the ranks troubled his more reformist peers, as he revived anti-'capitalist roader' sentiment, even while his family and associates enjoyed the more open economy's opportunities. Amid fears his imminent elevation to the powerful Standing Committee was leading China towards another destructive Cultural Revolution, have his opponents seized their chance now to destroy Bo and what he stands for? The trigger was his wife Gu Kailai's apparently paranoid murder of an English family friend, which exposed the corruption and brutality of Bo's outwardly successful administration of the massive city of Chongqing. It also led to the one of the highest-level attempted defections in Communist China's history when Bo's right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, tried to escape the ruins of his sponsor's reputation.

Garnaut explains how this incredible glimpse into the very personal power struggles within the CCP exposes the myth of the unified one-party state. With China approaching superpower status, today's leadership shuffle may set the tone for international relations for decades. Here, Garnaut reveals a particularly Chinese spin on the old adage that the personal is political.

'Illuminating . . . By far the most carefully researched and sober analysis of a scandal that has fascinated the world' New York Review of Books
'Garnaut's father was the Australian ambassador to Beijing, so he knows the scene and has connections that lift his account above other instant rivals . . . A brave attempt to crack the code of a closed society' Sunday Times (UK)

'His insight is unique and well applied to this extraordinary, intergenerational set of events that Hollywood couldn't dream up if it tried' – ABC Radio, Sydney

Reviews

'By far the most carefully researched and sober analysis of a scandal that has fascinated the world' – New York Review of Books

PRH, PRH

'Garnaut's father was the Australian ambassador to Beijing, so he knows the scene and has connections that lift his account above other instant rivals . . . A brave attempt to crack the code of a closed society' – Sunday Times (UK)

PRH, PRH

'Engrossing and informing' – Sun-Herald

PRH, PRH

'Thought-provoking and fascinating, Garnaut tells the tale not just of a spectacular fall from grace: it is an exposure of the brutality of Chinese politics' – ABC Radio, Brisbane

PRH, PRH

'If you included all the ingredients of this 'real life' story - part murder mystery, part political thriller, part expose of the inner-workings of China's revolutionary elite - in a novel, it would strain credibility . . . John Garnaut has done an impressive job of teasing out the many strands of this complex, murky tale.' Sydney Morning Herald

PRH, PRH

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780143569350

    November 27, 2012

    Penguin (AU Adult)

    152 pages

    RRP $9.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781742538808

    October 26, 2012

    Penguin eBooks (AU Adult)

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
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    • eBooks
    • Google Play
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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2013
    Longlisted
  • 2013
    Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism
    Longlisted

Also by John Garnaut

The Rise And Fall Of The House Of Bo