Mao: The Unknown Story Paperback – 4 Jan 2007
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"The first great political biography of the twenty-first century" (Frank Johnson Spectator)
"This is a bombshell of a book... Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done this extraordinary country a huge service with this book, which will one day be read as widely within China as it will deservedly be in the outside world" (Chris Patten The Times)
"Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life... Magnificent... It is a stupendous work" (Michael Yahuda Guardian)
"Devastating... Awesome... Mesmerising... The most powerful, compelling and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will" (George Walden Daily Mail)
"A triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research. This is the first intimate, political biography of the greatest monster of them all" (Simon Sebag Montefiore Sunday Times)
The most authoritative life of Mao ever written, by the bestselling author of Wild Swans, Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Halliday.See all Product description
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There were times as I worked my way through this heavy book that I felt the bias towards Mao became too much of a driving force for the authors. However, the more I read, the more I believed. The book also brought me to question how such a nation could respond in the way that it did to Mao's many cruel tactics and how people could become implicit in it.
Anyone who has an interest in China and it's history would greatly benefit from reading Mao - The Unknown Story. They will learn not just about Mao, but of many other famous and infamous people of that time, along with a deeper understanding of the psyche of the Chinese people before and after the Communist Party came to rule.
Not a comfortable read, by any measure, but an extremely valuable one.
The authors are particularly strong in the area of Mao's rise to power, both within the Chinese Communist Party, and later over the whole of China. Along the way, they manage to destroy several myths, including the 'triumph' of The Long March and the untainted image of Chou En Lai. Despite the printing of hundreds of millions of copies of the 'Little Red Book' setting out his thoughts, Mao was no great political thinker. Rather, he was a brilliantly ruthless political operator who established a religious cult with himself as the chief deity.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in twentieth century history. Although it is a fairly substantial tome, it is never dull or boring. It is however shocking and upsetting to see how one man's lust for power could destroy the lives of so many innocent people.
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