What to Read on the Chongqing Chaos


(Please see update below.) So much has happened over the past month in highest-level Chinese politics, and has happened so turbulently and so non-"transparently," that it has been very hard to know which wild speculations might actually be true, and which will turn out merely to be wild speculation. So I have not presumed to offer any "interpretation" of my own.

web-bo-xilai-02_1376130cl-8.jpgWhat I can say is that I've found one account I think anyone interested in the drama should read. It's a long-but-fascinating article by the Australian journalist John Garnaut, on the Foreign Policy site. I could try to summarize it, but instead I'll just say: if you'd like to get your bearings for understanding news about Bo Xilai (right, the fast-rising and recently cashiered party boss of Chongqing, whom Evan Osnos of the New Yorker called China's counterpart to Huey Long); Wang Lijun (his longtime police-chief ally, who apparently sought asylum at a U.S. consulate); and even Neil Heywood (the British businessman who has ended up dead in China), then this is the article for you. Detailed, historically informative, personally rich, and convincing, based on what we know so far. Even has a wacky but seemingly authentic photo of the current strongmen of China, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, as young staffers 25 years ago.

Update: Inexplicably -- or because there is now so much on our site -- I had missed our own Damien Ma's excellent piece on this topic, with even more dramatic pictures.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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