Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes by James Palmer
The Tangshan Earthquake and the Death of Mao's China

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The author is on firmer ground in the last chapter, where he describes the China he knows today...
-WSJ online


When an earthquake of historic magnitude leveled the industrial city of Tangshan in the summer of 1976, killing more than a half-million people, China was already gripped by widespread social unrest. As Mao lay on his deathbed, the public mourned the death of popular premier Zhou Enlai. Anger toward the powerful Communist Party officials in the Gang of Four, which had tried to suppress grieving for Zhou, was already potent; when the government failed to respond swiftly to the Tangshan disaster, popular resistance to the Cultural Revolution reached a boiling point.

In Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes, acclaimed historian James Palmer tells the startling story of the most tumultuous year in modern Chinese history, when Mao perished, a city crumbled, and a new China was born.


About James Palmer

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James Palmer has traveled extensively in East and Central Asia and has worked with Taoist and Buddhist groups in China and Mongolia on environmental issues. In 2003 he won the Spectator's Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. He lives in Beijing.
Published January 3, 2012 by Basic Books. 298 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Fathers on Jan 20 2012

The author is on firmer ground in the last chapter, where he describes the China he knows today...

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