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Private Life Of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao's Personal Physician Paperback – 4 Apr 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (4 April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099648814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099648819
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Li is Mao's Boswell" (Irish Times)

"A unique political and historical autobiography of inestimable worth, an astounding chronicle of human weakness, political intrigue and corruption and the near destruction of a great nation by a great ego" (Martin Booth)

"One of the most vivid descriptions of a dictator ever written" (The Times)

"A classic . . . I see Dr. Li as the Tacitus of modern China" (Hugh Trevor-Roper)

Book Description

A landmark political biography and personal memoir providing an unprecedented insight into the private life of one of history's most infamous political figures; a dictator placed alongside Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe, Chairman Mao was the Communist founder and political leader of The People's Republic of China.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By trace007@talk21.com on 3 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the view of Mao from one of the people closest to him. Dr Li writes honestly and openly about life with the man who changed China forever. The book gives more insight into the way Mao thought up his policies than many other books I have read on the subject and does so in a way that makes the book a very easy read, although the content is not always pleasant!
I would recommend this book to anyone who has read books such as 'Wild Swans' as it gives a very different perspective on the way China was being governed. It also shows the reader how paranoia and the desire for ultimate power can destroy someones ability to reason and act responsibly.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By pouxc@warwick.ac.uk on 16 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been a student of Chinese politics for a few years now, and I have read many texts describing the political intrigues in China in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but this is far and away the best I have ever read. The impression of Mao which emerges from these pages is fascinating, often chilling and sometimes even funny. Dr Li is an excellent writer and he manages to convey his own feelings of fear, joy and despair in a totally gripping way. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pelagius on 1 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a major historical testament, giving a lively eye-witness view of the grimly mesmerising court of Chairman Mao, told by his personal physician. Equally, Dr Li's book is an account of how he managed to survive in the terrifying cauldron of Mao's inner circle for 22 years, remaining sane and reasonably balanced while using all his considerable intelligence to avoid countless political pitfalls - but not all of them.

For the non-specialist, the book could be shorter, cutting out much detail about the bureaucracy and medical twists and turns. Dr Li's memoirs are not a work of historical analysis, though he does cover all of the main events. It's value is as the personal testimony of an acute observer, whose direct involvement and frequent (often daily) personal contact with Mao over more than two decades gives his account the ring of authenticity.

Chairman Mao emerges as a ruthless and far-sighted manipulator of people and ultimately his entire nation, using fear and strategic shifts (including the turn to the USA in 1972) to imbalance everyone, not least the Communist Party - which was the chief target for the dreadful Cultural Revolution of the 1960s - and the USSR, whose patronising attitude he resented greatly. Mao's youthful idealism appears to have withered very early, pushed aside by his drive to yield uncontested power, brooking no criticism or other source of authority.

According to Li, the sensual Mao was utterly cold, with no personal friends amongst his entourage, his fellow leaders or his women. However, Mao had a pronounced sense of humour and an ability to put people at their ease, though often this was to allow him more easily to observe their character and to probe their weaknesses.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By chau rules on 19 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book grips from the beginning as it launches with a dramatic recounting of Mao's death and the tumultuous events that followed. However Dr. Li's text is no less fascinating or gripping as it covers less dramatic moments, the accounts of Mao's political maneuvering and their many personal discussions provide a wealth of intrigue. It is quite a remarkable achievement that Dr. Li is able to provide such a detailed account of events given that the author destroyed his initial notes in China for fear they would be discovered.

While immersed in this book I felt that I was privy to the inner-most workings of government in China during the rule of Mao. Of course Dr. Li is only one source and the validity of his views can be questioned along with any other source - but the unique insight offered from a man who was so close to Mao for as long as Dr. Li was while not holding any particular political allegiance or agenda other than the protecting the common good of China and its people is electrifying. Dr. Li's writing style is engaging and charismatic as he beautifully inter-weaves political and personal histories with the events in his own life alongside his own private thoughts, reflections and hardships.

The focus is of course Mao but this is Dr. Li's life story - it is one of patriotism, pride, fear, disillusionment, hope and sadness. One feels as if you are Dr. Li's confidant, listening to him pouring out a story that is in such contrast to that which was projected to the rest of China and the world. Mao comes alive in the pages of this book through his brutally charismatic, calculating, ruthless and often inhumanly expedient personality and although he dominates this text this book is a tale of two characters and the quiet, noble goodness of Dr. Li also shines throug.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chingle on 30 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Having lived abroad for 10 years away from China, I was very curious to read about the history of the culture revolution and what exactly happened there and then. I knew very little except the bits and pieces parents generation mentioned, hence it was an excellent opportunity to get down to the facts, timelines and true reasons behind.

Dr Li gave an excellent insight to what happened during the 22 years of his service to Mao as his personal physician. It answered many of my questions I had and helped me to understand what environment my parents' generation grow up in.

I would recommend this book to others who is also curious as me.
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