China's LeadersFrom Mao to Now
China's Leaders
From Mao to Now

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China over 70 years ago, five paramount leaders have shaped the fates and fortunes of the nation and the ruling Chinese Communist Party: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. Under their leaderships, China has undergone an extraordinary transformation from an undeveloped and insular country to a comprehensive world power.

In this definitive study, renowned Sinologist David Shambaugh offers a refreshing account of China’s dramatic post-revolutionary history through the prism of those who ruled it. Exploring the persona, formative socialization, psychology, and professional experiences of each leader, Shambaugh shows how their differing leadership styles and tactics of rule shaped China domestically and internationally: Mao was a populist tyrant, Deng a pragmatic Leninist, Jiang a bureaucratic politician, Hu a technocratic apparatchik, and Xi a modern emperor. Covering the full scope of these leaders’ personalities and power, this is an illuminating guide to China’s modern history and understanding how China has become the superpower of today.

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  • September 2021
  • 416 pages
  • 160 x 234 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $29.95
  • 9781509546510
  • Open eBook $24.00
  • 9781509546527
Table of Contents
List of Boxes, Tables and Figures

Preface and Acknowledgements

1. On China’s Leaders and Leadership

2. Mao Zedong: Populist Tyrant

3. Deng Xiaoping: Pragmatic Leninist

4. Jiang Zemin: Bureaucratic Politician

5. Hu Jintao: Technocratic Apparatchik
6. Xi Jinping: Modern Emperor

7. Conclusion: China’s Leaders in Perspective

About the Author
David Shambaugh is an internationally recognized authority and award-winning author on contemporary China and the international relations of Asia. He is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs, and Director of the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He was previously Reader in Chinese Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), where he also served as Editor of The China Quarterly. Professor Shambaugh is also a frequent commentator in the international media, serves on a number of editorial boards, has been a consultant to the US government, research institutions, foundations, and private corporations, and has taught undergraduate and graduate students for more than three decades.
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“A colourful and accessible introduction to China's five main leaders to date.”
The Telegraph

“David Shambaugh is widely regarded as one of the world’s most astute analysts of Chinese politics, and his lucid study pays particular attention to the personalities of the five top leaders who have shaped China since the communist revolution of 1949.”
Rana Mitter,The Guardian

“A fascinating look at China's evolution since 1949 through the eyes and actions of the country's top leaders: Mao, Deng, Jiang, Hu, and Xi. Fresh, fun, and insightful. Shambaugh has written a must-read book for understanding contemporary China.”
Elizabeth C. Economy, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Council on Foreign Relations, and author of The Third Revolution

“David Shambaugh is a seasoned observer and scholar of Chinese politics who masterfully helps us understand the forces that have driven China's leaders over seven decades. In this deeply researched study, he assembles an engrossing mosaic of profiles that brings to life the very different men who have led China over the past decades.”
Orville Schell, Director of the Center on US–China Relations, Asia Society, and author of My Old Home

“In this fresh look at the interplay of cultural, psychological, and systemic factors shaping top Chinese leaders, Shambaugh explores how the idiosyncrasies of PRC rulers have intersected with broader changes in state behavior. Displaying extraordinary precision and perception, this book will long serve as a classic in leadership studies.”
Cheng Li, Director, John L. Thornton China Center, The Brookings Institution, and author of Chinese Politics in the Xi Era

“David Shambaugh has been studying Chinese politics for over forty years. In this new book, he offers readers a commanding and authoritative study of the five leaders who have done most to shape the People’s Republic of China since its founding. A significant and important book from one of modern China’s leading analysts.”
Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute and Professor of Chinese Studies, King’s College London, and author of The World According to Xi

“An authoritative and highly informative introduction to the major political leaders of contemporary China.”
Michael Dillon, Professor of History, Affiliate of the Lau China Centre, King's College, London

“A highly regarded and experienced specialist in the study of Chinese elite politics, Shambaugh is in his element delineating the overlaps and divergences in the leadership styles of Mao and four of his successors.”
Jeff Wasserstrom, University of California-Irvine

“a very good book indeed”

“a superb overview of the Chinese Communist Party’s seven-decade rule through profiles of five main leaders.”
Bookish Asia

“The book has a clear structure, and by emphasizing the comparison of the five leaders it is immediately clear what the book is about. Shambaugh's writing is clear and accessible, and also offers readers without much specialist knowledge on the subject a good overview of China's modern history.”

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