Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes

  • by James Palmer
  • Narrated by George Backman
  • 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When an earthquake of historic magnitude leveled the industrial city of Tangshan in the summer of 1976, killing more than a half-million people, China was already gripped by widespread social unrest. As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. Anger toward the powerful Communist Party officials in the Gang of Four, which had tried to suppress grieving for Zhou, was already potent; when the government failed to respond swiftly to the Tangshan disaster, popular resistance to the Cultural Revolution reached a boiling point.
In Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes, acclaimed historian James Palmer tells the startling story of the most tumultuous year in modern Chinese history, when Mao perished, a city crumbled, and a new China was born.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

50% Earthquake 50% Bad Government

What did you love best about Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes?

I learned so much in this book. I'm almost utterly illiterate when it comes to modern Chinese history, so every single minute of this book was new knowledge for me to soak up.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several of the stories about the survivors and those that did not make it through broke my heart. I think what affected me the most though was learning about the abuse, murder, and utter torture that the teachers across China went through because of idiots and horrible children.

Any additional comments?

This is not light reading. There is almost no part of this book that will make you not feel like crap. It might even bring some people to tears. That said - it IS an important book. Human nature can be brutal and horrible, and we all need to recognize that these things really do happen.

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- Daphne

A trip back in time.

Where does Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very good.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes?

The beginning where the woman is getting a goldfish because they can supposedly know when earthquakes are coming.

Have you listened to any of George Backman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I hadn't.

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


Any additional comments?

The pronationion of Chinsese names in places could've ben better.

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- brian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-10-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios