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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, by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang, Adi Ignatius 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 Diet Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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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.