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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing personal insight into the last quarter of Mao's life, 19 Dec 2009
This review is from: Private Life Of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao's Personal Physician (Paperback)
It is difficult to imagine anyone having as close contact to Chairman Mao as Dr Li. When Mao died it was Dr Li who was holding his hand to check his pulse. Over the previous 22 years, Li had almost daily meetings with Mao, during which Mao would expound his philosophy and thinking during supposed English lessons. Although during the latter half of this period Li's contact with Mao was less frequent he still had considerably more contact than many others, including many of the party leadership. During these 22 years the whole regime lurched from revisionist to leftist tendencies and back, and few people flourished for very long. Li survived only by keeping himself apart, as much as was possible, from the political machinations that consumed the regime over which Mao ruled. The result is a phenomenal and unique prolonged insight into the life of a modern dictator and his immediate entourage: `group One' as it was known. Because Dr Li only started to work for Mao in 1954, when Mao was already over 60, the book focuses entirely on the last quarter of Mao's life. However, this was arguably the most important period of Mao's career and the book provides many exclusive insights into the way Mao thought, and some of the reasons that underpinned the disastrous policies of the great leap forwards and the cultural revolution. It also paints a detailed picture of the difficulties and stresses of surviving in a politically charged environment where an indiscreet word or being pictured socially with the wrong person might many years later come back to haunt you. These are married together with exclusive descriptions of Mao's personal habits (he spent most of his life in bed and never brushed his teeth) and his sex life (he had lots). It is an important book with a distinctive perspective that is well worth reading.
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4.5 out of 5 stars (17 customer reviews)
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