Politics in China: An Introduction

Article excerpt

Politics in China: An Introduction, edited by William A. Joseph. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. xviii + 437 pp. US$99.00 (hardcover), US$39.95 (paperback).

This 437-page book, available in paperback as well as hardcover, is both a useful "introduction" to Chinese politics (as it is modestly subtitled) and "unique book", as William A. Joseph contends more boldly in his preface. It is useful because it provides a quite comprehensive and up-to-date overview of nearly every dimension of Chinese politics that one might deem pertinent, yet it is also unique (or at least unusual) in at least two respects. First, its coverage is really quite comprehensive, ranging from the Guangxu emperor to Hu Jintao and his likely successor Xi Jinping, and from public health and the environmental crisis to the future of electoral democracy in Hong Kong. Second, the selection of contributing chapter writers is excellent: thus, we have Keith Schoppa on the fall of the Qing, Frederick Teiwes on the Maoist era, Tyrene Whyte on population planning, Robert Barnett on Tibet, David Zweig on political economy, Richard Kraus on the arts, Shelley Rigger on Taiwan, and so forth.

After an introduction by Joseph that discusses methodology and a sampling of prospective analytical frameworks, and provides an overview of China's geographic and demographic basics, the book consists of four parts. The first part reviews the country's political history, including chapters by Schoppa on the fall of the dynasty and Teiwes on Mao, ably followed by Bruce Gilley on the reform era. …

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