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Download Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang Audiobook, by Bao Pu Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (229 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bao Pu, Renee Chiang, Adi Ignatius Narrator: Norman Dietz Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781400183364
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How often can you peek behind the curtains of one of the most secretive governments in the world? Prisoner of the State is the first book to give listeners a front-row seat to the secret inner workings of China’s government. It is the story of Premier Zhao Ziyang, the man who brought liberal change to that nation and who, at the height of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, tried to stop the massacre and was dethroned for his efforts.

When China’s army moved in, killing hundreds of students and other demonstrators, Zhao was placed under house arrest at his home on a quiet alley in Beijing. China’s most promising change agent had been disgraced, along with the policies he stood for. The premier spent the last sixteen years of his life, up until his death in 2005, in seclusion. An occasional detail about his life would slip out: reports of a golf excursion, a photo of his aging visage, a leaked letter to China’s leaders. But China scholars often lamented that Zhao never had his final say.

As it turns out, Zhao did produce a memoir in complete secrecy. He methodically recorded his thoughts and recollections on what had happened behind the scenes during many of modern China’s most critical moments. The tapes he produced were smuggled out of the country and form the basis for Prisoner of the State. In this audio journal, Zhao provides intimate details about the Tiananmen crackdown, describes the ploys and double-crosses China’s top leaders use to gain advantage over one another, and talks about the necessity for China to adopt democracy in order to achieve long-term stability.

The China that Zhao portrays is not some long-lost dynasty. It is today’s China, where the nation’s leaders accept economic freedom but continue to resist political change. If Zhao had survived—that is, if the hard-line hadn’t prevailed during Tiananmen—he might have been able to steer China’s political system toward more openness and tolerance. Zhao’s call to begin lifting the party’s control over China’s life—to let a little freedom into the public square—is remarkable coming from a man who had once dominated that square. Although Zhao now speaks from the grave in this moving and riveting memoir, his voice has the moral power to make China sit up and listen.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The up-close-and-personal tone of [this] book stands out.”

    Washington Post

  • “Riveting for any student of China.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A rare first-person account of crisis politics at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party.”

    New York Times

  • “Until the appearance of this posthumous work, not a single voice of dissent had ever emerged from the [Chinese Communist] party’s inner circle…Fascinating.”

    Economist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 rope | 2/16/2014

    " Somewhat bogged down in details. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Craig Oliver | 2/3/2014

    " blah blah blah...yes. It's that bad. Something must have been lost in the Chinese translation of the description of all the Communist Party inner workings. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tina | 1/27/2014

    " I got halfway through this before stopping. It's about Chinese politics, which isn't that interesting to me. It is interesting to learn about the maneuverings that go on in the leadership of the nation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 1/15/2014

    " This is a fascinating book because it shows the inner operations of the high level Chinese government. What's interesting is that it's much like the high level operations of any major organization -- a lot of maneuvering among the players, idealism and backstabbing all part of the equation. A fantastic book for the historical record. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Harriett | 12/31/2013

    " O.K., I give up. I just can't finish it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/26/2013

    " This book was a fascinating look into the inner workings of the CCP during the 1980s, specifically during the student protests of 1989, and it is a must-read for any scholar or student of contemporary Chinese history or politics. Although I personally found it riveting, I can certainly understand how non-China Hands might be bored by large parts of it discussing the negotiations of economic policy within the upper levels of the party. The image that Zhao Ziyang's memoir reveals of rival factions jockeying for power is nearly unprecedented, and it is easy to see how easily the actions of a few individuals, and thus the contemporary history of one of the world's most important countries, could have changed or been affected so easily. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 12/8/2013

    " This is the real dragon who wakes us up in his coffin. His body will be forever warm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 12/5/2013

    " I got very interesting insights into China's economic reform process, the Tiananmen demonstrations and the political backstabbing going on in the Communist Party from this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aquaflore Yu | 10/22/2013

    " what would have happened to China if he had not been threw out of power? He was once the hope of China's new "open" era ... "stability" is the key after all? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Juneadelle | 9/27/2013

    " I so, so wish that this book had been more than a retelling of meeting minutes. I was prepared to love it. Instead, it has the dubious honor of being the first book since Billy Budd that I finally threw down in disgust without finishing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 12/31/2012

    " Pretty interesting look inside China's government during a certain time period, and the political story of a man who did not toe the party line and was punished for it. A bit of a dry read, but still very interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Luke Terry | 7/21/2011

    " Part communist. Part capitalist. 100% Chinese prisoner of the state "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bruce | 6/18/2011

    " Brutally, criminally dull. Poor guy gets put under house arrest for having an unpopular opinion, then spends 16 years writing letters to The Powers That Be who assiduously ignore them, and him, until he dies of old age and boredom. No one, but no one, does bureaucracy like the ChiComs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian Restless | 6/1/2011

    " Insightful perspective into Chinese politics, their world view, and how they moved from socialism to quasi capitalism - all through the eyes of a man on the front lines of it all, Zhao Ziyang. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Harry Papasotiriou | 5/5/2011

    " Memoir of the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 1987-1989, a reformer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MaryKay | 4/22/2011

    " Very interesting. Gave me an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in the Chinese government, even today. Forbidden book in mainland China. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 2/16/2011

    " Amazing content, though not the most exciting read. I think I learned more about China in the 80s and 90s than I ever thought I'd know. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Craig | 1/17/2011

    " blah blah blah...yes. It's that bad. Something must have been lost in the Chinese translation of the description of all the Communist Party inner workings. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 8/21/2010

    " Pretty interesting look inside China's government during a certain time period, and the political story of a man who did not toe the party line and was punished for it. A bit of a dry read, but still very interesting. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bruce | 2/20/2010

    " Brutally, criminally dull. Poor guy gets put under house arrest for having an unpopular opinion, then spends 16 years writing letters to The Powers That Be who assiduously ignore them, and him, until he dies of old age and boredom. No one, but no one, does bureaucracy like the ChiComs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 2/11/2010

    " Amazing content, though not the most exciting read. I think I learned more about China in the 80s and 90s than I ever thought I'd know. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MaryKay | 10/7/2009

    " Very interesting. Gave me an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in the Chinese government, even today. Forbidden book in mainland China. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ian | 9/20/2009

    " Insightful perspective into Chinese politics, their world view, and how they moved from socialism to quasi capitalism - all through the eyes of a man on the front lines of it all, Zhao Ziyang. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick | 9/2/2009

    " This is definitely a great book to read in conjunction with Li Zhisui's Private Life or Chairman Mao. Ziyang's struggles to produce meaningful economic reform in China were consistently stymied by his belief that political reform was possible while leaving tht CPC in preeminence. "

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About the Author

Bao Pu, a political commentator and veteran human rights activist, is a publisher and editor of New Century Press in Hong Kong.

About the Narrator

Norman Dietz is a writer, voice-over artist, and audiobook narrator. He has won six Earphones Awards and was named one of the fifty “Best Voices of the Century” by AudioFile magazine. He and his late wife Sandra transformed an abandoned ice-cream parlor into a playhouse, which served “the world’s best hot fudge sundaes” before and after performances. The founder of Theatre in the Works, he lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.