As someone who has spent the last 17 years studying China, and 10 years living there, this book is the one that I would recommend for anyone who would like to know more about what's going on in this place and doesn't want to have to read twenty books to find out. That's not to say that there aren't other outstanding books on modern Chinese history - Jasper Becker's "Hungry Ghosts" and Frank Dikotter's 1949-76 trilogy come to mind - but these deal with specific historical episodes. "End of an Era" deals with general aspects of the politics of today's China. Essentially, it's a book about China's reform era, the subsequent retreat from the reform era and where China might go from here.
Apart from being well-written (the writer has a good turn of phrase and gets to the point quickly), it is also well-researched. That said, it doesn't read like an academic study; the story flows along nicely and isn't dull. But, perhaps more importantly, it's not merely descriptive. His entire argument hangs together as a thesis. That is, he doesn't just say this or that happens or is happening. Rather, his points have a theoretical underpinning to them. He doesn't only describe the death of the reform era, he offers an explanation as to why, and does so based on both his deep knowledge of China and his knowledge of other countries' experience. In this sense, I found his explanation of why Korea and Taiwan escaped authoritarianism, and why China hasn't, particularly worthwhile.
The whole book is wonderful and I'll be re-reading it very soon. Well-recommended.