Gilley, Bruce 1966-
GILLEY, Bruce 1966-
PERSONAL: Born 1966.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of California Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720.
CAREER: Journalist, c. 1998—; Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong correspondent.
Tiger on the Brink, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1998.
Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Bruce Gilley is the Hong Kong correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review. Tiger on the Brink is the first book-length study of Jiang Zemin, who was appointed head of the Chinese Communist Party by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1989. Since that time, he has ruled China and is one of the few Asian leaders of a country with a relatively stable society and a healthy economy.
Gilley describes Jiang's early life and his rise to power. Jiang was an unexpected ruler, because he did not have any major role in the Chinese Revolution, and is not a charismatic leader; in fact, before joining the Communist Party, he took part in demonstrations against the nationalist government. He came from an educated family and studied electrical engineering in Shanghai. Despite his unspectacular origins, Gilley notes, Jiang was able to rise to power because of his skill at ingratiating himself with Communist Party leaders. Merle Goldman wrote in the New York Times Book Review that "Gilley's account is not spellbinding, yet it reveals much about a leader whose personal qualities may have been appropriate for the past nine years."
Chinese documents are still largely closed to foreign journalists, which caused Gilley some trouble in finding sources of information for his book. In Foreign Affairs, Seth Faison noted this difficulty, saying, "Tiger on the Brink is essentially a first-rate clip job. Gilley, facing the rigid limits of a culture of political secrecy, has had to rely overwhelmingly on secondary sources; as he relates in the preface, the closest he ever got to his subject was when he ran into the portly president in the men's room at the Great Hall of the People. And Jiang left the restroom before a surprised Gilley could think of a question to ask."
In Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village, Gilley documents the village of Daqiu, in China. A poor farming village, Daqiu was transformed into an industrial center with the reforms initiated by Chairman Deng Xiaoping in 1978. It became a wealthy town from its steel manufacturing, but also from the leadership of Yu Zuomin. Yu brought notoriety and prestige to the village by his endless self-promoting. However, Yu was also a tyrant, stepping on the rights of the people. This led to the murder of a worker and an armed standoff between the villagers and the police. Parks M. Coble, a reviewer for Agricultural History, wrote that the story "makes for riveting reading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Agricultural History, winter, 2002, Parks M. Coble, review of Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village, p. 116.
Choice, July-August, 2001, C. A. Haulman, review of Model Rebels, p. 2004.
Foreign Affairs, January, 1999, p. 140.
History: Review of New Books, spring, 2001, John L. Rawlinson, review of Model Rebels, p. 130.
New York Times Book Review, September 14, 1998, p. 58; February 14, 1999.
Pacific Affairs, winter, 2001, Michelle Mood, review of Model Rebels, p. 592.
Publishers Weekly, September 14, 1998, p. 58.*