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From Rebel to Ruler

One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party

Tony Saich

ISBN 9780674293915

Publication date: 10/24/2023

“The definitive, candid, and absorbing history of a political organization…A vital account, based on magnificent research, that shows the party as a colossal, relentless, and enduring machine.”—Jane Perlez, former Beijing Bureau Chief, New York Times

“If you were to travel back in time to 1921 and predict that the Communist Party of China would rule over the world’s second-largest economy 100 years later, no one would believe you. In this definitive primer, Tony Saich explains how the impossible came true.”—Yuen Yuen Ang, Project Syndicate

“An extremely lucid, insightful history of the Chinese Communist Party. Saich’s readable narrative takes the CCP from its origins as a tiny group of revolutionaries…to the powerful, repressive rulers of a world power today.”—James Mann, author of The China Fantasy

Mao Zedong and the twelve young men who founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 could hardly have imagined that less than thirty years later, they would rule China. Over a century later the party remains in command, leading a nation primed for global dominance.

From Rebel to Ruler is a landmark history of the Chinese Communist Party—its rise against incredible odds, its struggle to consolidate power and overcome self-inflicted disasters, and its ability to thrive long after the collapse of the Soviet Union and dissolution of other communist parties. Leninist systems are thought to be rigid, yet the Chinese Communist Party has proved adaptable. Tony Saich shows that the party owes its endurance to its flexibility. But is it nimble enough to realize Xi Jinping’s “China Dream”? Challenges are multiplying, as a restless middle class makes new demands and the party strays ever further from its revolutionary roots.


  • There is arguably no organization in the world today that is more important to understand than the CCP…Saich’s [book] provides a comprehensive narrative of the CCP from its inception to this day…He is meticulous in his research and descriptions.

    —Martin Laflamme, Los Angeles Review of Books


  • Tony Saich is Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and Director the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia at Harvard Kennedy School. His books include Finding Allies and Making Revolution: The Early Years of the Chinese Communist Party and Governance and Politics of China.

Book Details

  • 560 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press