... remarkable ... With shelves groaning under the weight of books on modern China, Shum’s is a standout as a rare bona fide insider account of the decidedly anti-socialist nexus of money and politics that defines China’s authoritarian political system. It is essential reading for anyone interested in piercing the carefully controlled and orchestrated propaganda veneer Beijing has erected ... Shum’s book is a remarkable indictment of the Chinese Communist Party, coming at the precise moment that Xi is attempting to rebrand it as a morally pure force working selflessly on behalf of the Chinese people. Red Roulette lays siege to this effort by depicting a ruling class obsessed with power, luxury and status. This perhaps explains why the party went to such great lengths to guard two recent phone calls from Duan to Shum in which she pleaded with him to halt the book’s publication, lest harm come to her and his family.
... could be one of the most interesting and—at bottom—saddest books you will ever encounter ... Why are these tales so sad? An outsider might hope that some humans had developed a top-down hierarchy that used reason and positive rewards to direct a hard-working people to do great things. What Shum describes, however, is a system where a privileged elite is wined and dined (with aged Moutai liquor as well as French wines) to obtain permission to do anything and later get a cut from whatever profits ensue. The children and grandchildren of early revolutionaries (1920s–1940s) deploy their assets to enrich their own offspring so as to keep both power and wealth within the family.