Jeffrey Wasserstrom: The German Wall That Fell – And the Chinese Regime That Didn’t
Written by a high-profile political scientist and published in hard cover in 2008 and then in a paperback edition this year, Shambaugh’s book is a very fitting one to turn to just now, as the media is filled with retrospective looks at the last days of the Berlin Wall. Why? Because the destruction of that great Cold War symbol, more than any of the other wondrous events of 1989, inspired the erroneous belief that the days of all Communist Party regimes were about to end (they live on not just in China but also Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea). And because Shambaugh provides one of the best accounts yet of the post-1989 reinvention of the Chinese Communist Party that has kept China a Leninist country during what many assumed would be a post-Leninist era — not just for Europe, but for the world. He sheds important light, in other words, on why, when speaking of China, we need to think not of a Leninist Extinction but rather a Leninist Mutation.