A riveting look inside “the roulette-like political environment of the New China.”

RED ROULETTE

AN INSIDER'S STORY OF WEALTH, POWER, CORRUPTION, AND VENGEANCE IN TODAY'S CHINA

A Hong Kong–raised entrepreneur chronicles a high-flying life of wealth and political connections, eclipsed in harrowing fashion by a new wave of Chinese Communist Party authoritarianism.

In September 2017, Shum’s ex-wife and business partner, Whitney Duan, disappeared without a trace from Beijing, most certainly among the countless victims of trumped-up corruption charges by the relentless arm of Xi Jinping’s Communist Party apparatus. Together, Shum and Duan had built a vast fortune from real estate dealings in China, from the late 1990s through the global recession of 2008, a span of time during which China fully embraced private entrepreneurial energy in order to jump-start the economy. Around 1997, sensing the “go-go energy” of the new boom, in which “stories of instant millionaires and financial sensations” abounded, the couple leapt at the opportunity to enrich themselves, their families, and associates. However, the same intricate political connections that Duan had assiduously cultivated through the years, such as with Zheng Peili (“Auntie Zhang”), the wife of former premier Wen Jiabao, would prove the couple’s undoing as the political winds began to shift with the accession of Xi in 2013. Through a deliberative, slow-building, suspenseful narrative that reveals numerous insights about the mechanics of power and greed, Shum chronicles his humble early beginnings in Shanghai, then Hong Kong, where his family moved for more opportunity and he excelled as a swimmer, through college at the University of Wisconsin and attempts at trying his hand in the fledgling field of private equity. He effectively shows how Duan, a boldly calculating investor from a humble background, helped mold him into a highly successful entrepreneur. While Shum insists that they both fervently believed their wealth could foster social changes, he learned early on that what the Party gives, the Party can take away. Observers of contemporary Chinese affairs, consistently intriguing and murky territory, will find much to interest them here.

A riveting look inside “the roulette-like political environment of the New China.”

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982156-15-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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