Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 10:30 PM EST

Harvard University professor emeritus Dr. Ezra F. Vogel discussed his landmark biography, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, at the New York office of Covington & Burling on Wednesday, November 30.

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China was published this fall to widespread acclaim and has quickly become the definitive biography of one of China’s most extraordinary visionaries. In this meticulously and exhaustively researched book, Dr. Vogel recounts Deng Xiaoping’s rocky ascent to the top of the Chinese Communist Party during its most turbulent decades, and his tremendous role in steering China onto the path of sustained economic development and into modernity.

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Ezra F. Vogel is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan in 1950 and serving two years in the U.S. Army, he studied sociology in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard, receiving his Ph.D. in 1958. He then went to Japan for two years to study the Japanese language and conduct research. In 1960-1961 he was assistant professor at Yale University and from 1961-1964 a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, studying Chinese language and history. He remained at Harvard, becoming lecturer in 1964 and, in 1967, professor. He retired from teaching in 2000, having taught courses on Japanese and Chinese society and for many years a Core Curriculum course, Industrial East Asia.

Vogel succeeded John Fairbank to become the second director of Harvard's East Asian Research Center (1972-1977) and Second Chairman of the Council for East Asian Studies (1977-1980). He was director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Center for International Affairs (1980-1987) and, since 1987, honorary director. He was chairman of the undergraduate concentration in East Asian Studies from its inception in 1972 until 1991. He was director of the Fairbank Center (1995-1999) and the first director of the Asia Center (1997-1999). He was chairman of the Harvard Committee to Welcome President Jiang Zemin (1998).

Drawing on his original field work in Japan, he wrote Japan's New Middle Class (1963). A book based on several years of interviewing and reading materials from China, Canton Under Communism (1969), won the Harvard University Press faculty book of the year award. The Japanese edition of his book Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979) is the all-time best-seller in Japan of non-fiction by a Western author. In Comeback (1988), he suggested things America might do to respond to the Japanese challenge. One Step Ahead in China: Guangdong Under Reform (1989) examines Guangdong’s development in the decade following the economic reforms beginning in 1978. His Reischauer Lectures were published in The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of Industrialization in East Asia (1991). He updated his views on Japan in: Is Japan Still Number One? (2000).

Vogel has received ten honorary degrees, as well as The Japan Foundation Prize (1996) and the Japan Society Prize (1998). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2008 received the Harvard Graduate School Centennial Medal for his contribution to society.

From 1993 to 1995, Vogel took a two-year leave of absence from Harvard to serve as the National Intelligence Officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council in Washington. He directed the American Assembly on China in November 1996 (Vogel, ed., Living With China) and the Joint Chinese-American Assembly between China and the United States in 1998. He chairs the advisory board of the University Service Centre, Hong Kong.