"From the late Qing era to the early years of the Republic, the era of warlords, Jiang Jieshi, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin — Chinese politics has made world-shaking changes, but the label put on it [in the West] made no change at all."
And so Mark Leonard sets out, in about 150 very readable pages, to change that, by giving a brief overview of the variety of recent strands of political theory and practice, painting modern China not so much as one big behemoth, but as a wide range of competing ideologies, approaches, and, indeed, experiments. The five stars aren't because it's a perfect book, but simply to reflect just how many ‘ah!’s, ‘ooh!’s, and ‘eh?’s were crammed into it. For those of us involved in the world of public participation and open power, there are a lot of fascinating discussions tantalisingly alluded to here (I was particularly struck by one analogy of how Western democracy is like a restaurant where you can choose the chef, but then you have to eat whatever he cooks; vs China where you get no say in who the chef is, but you get to choose your [policy] dishes). Now I want the version that's twice as long, and updated for what's happened over the last five or six years.