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Joseph Torigian’s “Prestige, Manipulation and Coercion, Elite Power Struggles in The Soviet Union and China After Stalin and Mao” is in pole position for my best China book of 2022. Books that deeply engage with both Soviet and CCP primary sources around elite politics basically never come out nowadays. I for one am deeply grateful that Joe, one of the few folks on the planet with the training, language skills, and motivation to this sort of work, was able to produce this book.
Joe puts forward convincing revisionist interpretations of Khrushchev’s triumph after Stalin’s death, had me reconsider my conception of the Gang of 4 after Mao’s death, and made me feel for Hua Guofeng getting done dirty by Deng. His new model of how power transitions really work in authoritarian countries with weak institutions left me more scared than hopeful for whatever happens once Xi exits stage left.
Cohosting with me is Lizzi, a video journalist at Wall Street TV, a New York-based independent Chinese language media outlet focusing on Chinese politics and economics.
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