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  • Published: 26 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781742538808
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo: Penguin Special

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.

  • Published: 26 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781742538808
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook

Other books in the series

About the author

John Garnaut

John Garnaut is China correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, in the Fairfax Media stable, and also writes for Foreign Policy magazine. He joined Fairfax in 2002 as an economics journalist after working as a commercial lawyer. His work on China has been recognised with several awards, including the 2009 Walkley Award for Scoop of the Year, for reporting the detention of Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu. John lived in Beijing for two years in the 1980s, while his father was posted as the Australian ambassador, and returned there with his wife and children in 2007.

Also by John Garnaut

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Praise for The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo: Penguin Special

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)

Engrossing and informing.


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

Awards & recognition

Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism

Longlisted  •  2013  •  Book Award