The Communist Party of China and Marxism, 1921-1985

A Self-Portrait

Laszlo Ladany

‘This book is … a fast-moving, yet comprehensive tour d’horizon of China during the past nine decades, and also, a voyage of discovery. The author is not only a formidable historian, but a journalist of great distinction … Parts of this book read like a spy thriller—and other parts like a rather grim realistic novel.’

New paperback edition with a new Preface by Friedrich Young, a new Biographical Note by Edmund Ryden, SJ, and a new Epilogue by Peter Hoffenreich

Bibliographic Details
The Communist Party of China and Marxism, 1921-1985 Paperback
May 2018£20.00
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Without an understanding of the Communist Party no one can understand the China in which the Party has dominated the country. This book follows the development of the Communist Party and of Marxism in China from the early years. For the years 1921-49, it relies mainly on revelations in the Communist press of the early 1980s, when Chinese historians of the Party were relatively free to write. In relation to the People’s Republic, beginning in 1949, it summarises what was reported by the author in China News Analysis. This is essentially the story of the Chinese Communist Party in its own words.


Laszlo Ladany, born in Hungary in 1914, studied the violin at the Budapest Conservatoire and obtained the degree of Dr Iuris Utrisque at the University. He entered the Jesuit Order in 1936. In 1940-9 he studied in China, then left for Hong Kong where, during the years 1953-82, he published a weekly newsletter, China News Analysis, known to all China experts.


‘An excellent and informative account of the development of China’s Communist Party, recommended for students of China.’ —  Europe-Asia Studies

‘Every specialist will want to consult it for its wealth of telling detail and controversial insight.’ — Library Journal 

‘The factual information which he supplied was invaluable and irreplaceable. What made China News Analysis so infuriatingly indispensable was the very simple and original principle on which it was run (true originality is usually simple): all the information selected and examined in China News Analysis was drawn exclusively from official Chinese sources.’ — Simon Leys, New York Review of Books

‘They [Chinese scholars] could do no better than to consult Laszlo Ladany’s magnum opus, which traces in painstaking fashion the first 65 tortuous years of the party’s internal and external development.’ — Far Eastern Economic Review

‘He has written probably the best account of the modern Communist era of that vast, historic, greatly troubled country.’ — The Tablet

‘Ladany brings together data from his 1953-1979 newsletter, China News Analysis, the shrewdest and most under-cited Kremlinological commentary on China … [His] book makes a major contribution through copious translation of some of the massive post-Mao documentation of the violence, terror, and murder which were integral to Mao’s Communist Party.’ — Political Science Quarterly