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Gady Epstein's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Gady Epstein recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Gady Epstein's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Treason by the Book

In 1728 a stranger handed a letter to Governor Yue calling on him to lead a rebellion against the Manchu rulers of China. Feigning agreement, he learnt the details of the plot and immediately informed the Emperor, Yongzheng. The ringleaders were captured with ease, forced to recant and, to the confusion and outrage of the public, spared.
Drawing on an enormous wealth of documentary evidence - over a hundred and fifty secret documents between the Emperor and his agents are stored in Chinese archives - Jonathan Spence has recreated this revolt of the scholars in fascinating and chilling...
Recommended by Gady Epstein, and 1 others.

Gady EpsteinI suppose I’m cheating because there was no internet in the 18th century. But it happens to be my favourite book of Jonathan Spence’s and it’s on a theme that is very relevant today, which is control of how rumours and information spread. So this is about the Yongzheng Emperor, who becomes concerned about a treasonous letter that is written somewhere in some part of China. He doesn’t know much... (Source)

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Click here to hear Anne-Marie Brady's BBC World Service radio documentary titled "The Message from China" China's government is no longer a Stalinist-Maoist dictatorship, yet it does not seem to be moving significantly closer to democracy as it is understood in Western terms. After a period of self-imposed exclusion, Chinese society is in the process of a massive transformation in the name of economic progress and integration into the world economy. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is seeking to maintain its rule over China indefinitely, creating yet another "new" China. Propaganda and... more
Recommended by Gady Epstein, and 1 others.

Gady EpsteinAnne Marie Brady has done a lot to advance the notion that, contrary to what some people felt in the 1990s, China’s efforts at propaganda and thought-work have actually intensified since 1989, not weakened. Some people argue that the effectiveness of China’s propaganda system has become weaker over that time – as China’s media has become more commercialized, as society has become more pluralized,... (Source)

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Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has revolutionized popular expression in China, enabling users to organize, protest, and influence public opinion in unprecedented ways. Guobin Yang's pioneering study maps an innovative range of contentious forms and practices linked to Chinese cyberspace, delineating a nuanced and dynamic image of the Chinese Internet as an arena for creativity, community, conflict, and control. Like many other contemporary protest forms in China and the world, Yang argues, Chinese online activism derives its methods and vitality from multiple and intersecting forces, and... more
Recommended by Gady Epstein, and 1 others.

Gady EpsteinYang Guobin is looking at online activism dating back to the 1990s. He writes about a number of different cases, over the years, where average citizens, because of the ability to post online, have been able to effect change. He thinks that fact, in itself, is significant and, in a sense, democratizing with a small “d.” He goes back to the case of Sun Zhigang, the migrant worker who was beaten to... (Source)

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China has lived with the Internet for nearly two decades. Will increased Internet use, with new possibilities to share information and discuss news and politics, lead to democracy, or will it to the contrary sustain a nationalist supported authoritarianism that may eventually contest the global information order?
This book takes stock of the ongoing tug of war between state power and civil society on and off the Internet, a phenomenon that is fast becoming the centerpiece in the Chinese Communist Party's struggle to stay in power indefinitely. It interrogates the dynamics of this...
Recommended by Gady Epstein, and 1 others.

Gady EpsteinYes, I wouldn’t say this is the layman’s guide to the internet. Maybe none of these books quite are. They get very deep into the ideological weeds, because that gets to the core of whether authoritarian management of the internet can work. In After the Internet, Before Democracy, Lagerqvist tries to find a middle ground between technological determinism/cyberutopianism – this notion that the... (Source)

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The Internet was going to liberate us, but in truth it has not. For every story about the web's empowering role in events such as the Arab Spring, there are many more about the quiet corrosion of civil liberties by companies and governments using the same digital technologies we have come to depend upon. In Consent of the Networked, journalist and Internet policy specialist Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it is time to fight for our rights before they are sold, legislated, programmed, and engineered away. Every day, the corporate sovereigns of cyberspace (Google and Facebook, among... more
Recommended by Danielle Citron, Gady Epstein, and 2 others.

Danielle CitronAs @rmack described in her powerful book Consent of the Networked, it is digibonapartism. So worth a reread especially today as you note with China as a leader in this effort. @imran_malek Just read the book in our free speech in a digital age class. Always illuminating. (Source)

Gady EpsteinRebecca, used to be a [CNN] journalist here. Her work on the internet in China and on internet freedom in general has been very important in the field and a lot of people have cited her work. Her book provides a sober context for understanding how the Chinese internet works. (Source)

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The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation's communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for...

Casey Neistatjust finished this yesterday. absolutely fantastic book. super recommend if you're into spycraft and espionage. bravo @BenMacintyre1 (Source)

Isabel Hardman@holland_tom @BenMacintyre1 Oh it’s a brilliant book isn’t it. Another one I was sad to finish. (Source)

Amrullah SalehI had a great conversation with Ambassador Micheal Lund Jeppesen of @DKinAfghanistan . On the sidelines of our rich conversation we spoke of the Spy & the Traitor a great book in which Denmark's intelligence features highly. Proud of our alliance & cooperation. (Source)

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