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This book was so much deeper and more detailed than I expected. What a satisfying read! I was looking for something about the Bo Xilai incident, an event which already seems outlandish on the surface. The outline of the story is well-known - English man found dead of apparent poisoning in a backwater hotel in central China in 2011; wife of rising political star Bo Xilai is implicated and eventually found guilty; rising political star sidelined. Oh, that's all? Of course I wanted to know more.
Ho and Huang's book begins with the familiar story, then separates the players into concentric circles, going into the biographies of everyone involved. For some readers, this may be offtrack and excess to the plot. But, as the title implies, the book is about the struggle for power and control in a changing China. And it does not disappoint. The authors explore the predicament of post-revolutionary China, hemmed in by generational "royalty" as the sons and daughters of Mao-era notables evolve into a new type of elite class. The details are fascinating and at times salacious, but they create a kind of family tree revealing the impact of a relatively small cast of characters in the post-Mao era. The authors indicate sources seamlessly within the narrative, which I really appreciate - as a reader, you can parse the relative credibility as you go.
Among the takeaways - Bo Xilai was taking bribes into the billions (yes, billions!) of RMB, oversaw the state execution of hundreds of the guilty and innocent alike, yet is still a folk hero to the populace in Chong Qing. Bo Xilai's fall from power ultimately made the way for Xi Jinping's ascendency. And current Party Secretary Xi Jinping lived in a cave for seven years. I know it reads like a script from Game of Thrones, but if you are interested in Chinese history or current events (or a context with which to view Xi Jinping), then you will love this book.
The narrator James Chen is fantastic - clearly a speaker of Chinese so that names are pronounced properly, how refreshing.
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Some of the time was well-spent, I suppose, but the book seemed far too long -- padded out with details that were unnecessary to the plot and in some instances irrelevant.
Would you ever listen to anything by Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang again?
What three words best describe James Chen’s voice?
Do you think A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No. Nothing sufficiently incomplete or interesting to warrant follow-up.