The Death of Mao: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Birth of the New China Hardcover – 19 Jan 2012
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'A masterly study of a nation at the crossroads.' --Sunday Telegraph
'Palmer brings to life the personalities jockeying for power as Mao lay dying of motor neurone disease in 1976.' --Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
A major work of Cold War history, capturing the moment when Mao died and China entered a dramatic phase of transition from Communism.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
History books are to hard to write without making them become rather dry, but this book doesn't suffer from that.
Mao used the opportunity to remove opponents including Peng Dehuai and launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to kill perceived enemies. All but Zhou Enlai, Mao's faithful propagandist, fell with Zhou treated with contempt as Mao's status changed from leader to secular god. Amongst the fallen was Lin Biao, Mao's chosen successor. Mao's status enabled him through his wife Jiang Qing, to brainwash 'Red Guards' into support for his political objective of removing all opposition. The ideological robots did his bidding without realising they were being used. No-one knows how many people were killed during the Cultural Revolution.Read more ›
The author describes the political in fighting that occured around the time of Maos death with "the gang of four"- which included the wife of Mao-fighting for control to continue the old way of life and Hua Guofeng, who was supportes by the army,who wanted to root out criminals and corruption.Huo won but was ineffectual and was replaced by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 who initiated a more liberal regime which resulted in great advances and the China we know today.
Well written,researched and highly recommended.
However, the main conceit of the book is that when emperors die, disasters stalk the land. The 1976 Tangshan earthquake was, indeed a disaster, and one which was covered up by Chinese Authorities, however I didn’t see any connection with the death of Mao, so overall I didn’t see the relevance of including it in this book. Either story would have been interesting, but both, together, confused me.
Also the author intrudes too much into the story – telling us how difficult it is for him to assess the age of any rural Chinese over forty – due to the effects of malnutrition during the Cultural Revolution. He also mentions his Chinese grandparents – without explaining how he acquired them. To be honest, I don’t want to know, but this was an irritant.
Nonetheless a clear description of events I knew little about.
would be great i just felt like i was reading a really biased book. devalued all of your statements
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