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 interviews with middle-class families. In 1960-1961, he was an Assistant Professor at Yale University, and from 1961 to 1964 a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, studying Chinese language and history. He remained at Harvard, becoming a lecturer in 1964 and, in 1967, a professor. He retired from teaching on June 30, 2000.

Vogel succeeded John Fairbank to become the second Director (1972-1977) of Harvard’s East Asian Research Center and 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). Vogel was Chairman of the Harvard Committee to Welcome President Jiang Zemin (1998). He has also served as Co-director of the Asia Foundation Task Force on East Asian Policy Recommendations for the New Administration (2001).

Vogel is the author of many books about Japan and China.

Last Updated: February 26, 2018



Xi Won’t Go

Richard McGregor, Taisu Zhang & more
In a surprise Sunday move, Beijing announced that the Communist Party leadership wants to abolish the two-term limit for China’s president and vice president, potentially paving the way for China’s 64-year-old President Xi Jinping to stay in power...



Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Ezra Vogel
Harvard University Press: Perhaps no one in the twentieth century had a greater long-term impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar of contemporary East Asian history and culture is better qualified than Ezra Vogel to disentangle the many contradictions embodied in the life and legacy of China’s boldest strategist. Once described by Mao Zedong as a “needle inside a ball of cotton,” Deng was the pragmatic yet disciplined driving force behind China’s radical transformation in the late twentieth century. He confronted the damage wrought by the Cultural Revolution, dissolved Mao’s cult of personality, and loosened the economic and social policies that had stunted China’s growth. Obsessed with modernization and technology, Deng opened trade relations with the West, which lifted hundreds of millions of his countrymen out of poverty. Yet at the same time he answered to his authoritarian roots, most notably when he ordered the crackdown in June 1989 at Tiananmen Square. Deng’s youthful commitment to the Communist Party was cemented in Paris in the early 1920s, among a group of Chinese student-workers that also included Zhou Enlai. Deng returned home in 1927 to join the Chinese Revolution on the ground floor. In the fifty years of his tumultuous rise to power, he endured accusations, purges, and even exile before becoming China’s preeminent leader from 1978 to 1989 and again in 1992. When he reached the top, Deng saw an opportunity to creatively destroy much of the economic system he had helped build for five decades as a loyal follower of Mao—and he did not hesitate.{node, 795, 4}