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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?