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Mao: The Unknown Story Paperback – Nov 14 2006


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Mao: The Unknown Story + Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China + Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (Nov. 14 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679746323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679746324
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

In the epilogue to her biography of Mao Tse-tung, Jung Chang and her husband and cowriter Jon Halliday lament that, "Today, Mao's portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital." For Chang, author of Wild Swans, this fact is an affront, not just to history, but to decency. Mao: The Unknown Story does not contain a formal dedication, but it is clear that Chang is writing to honor the millions of Chinese who fell victim to Mao's drive for absolute power in his 50-plus-year struggle to dominate China and the 20th-century political landscape. From the outset, Chang and Halliday are determined to shatter the "myth" of Mao, and they succeed with the force, not just of moral outrage, but of facts. The result is a book, more indictment than portrait, that paints Mao as a brutal totalitarian, a thug, who unleashed Stalin-like purges of millions with relish and without compunction, all for his personal gain. Through the authors' unrelenting lens even his would-be heroism as the leader of the Long March and father of modern China is exposed as reckless opportunism, subjecting his charges to months of unnecessary hardship in order to maintain the upper hand over his rival, Chang Kuo-tao, an experienced military commander.

Using exhaustive research in archives all over the world, Chang and Halliday recast Mao's ascent to power and subsequent grip on China in the context of global events. Sino-Soviet relations, the strengths and weakness of Chiang Kai-shek, the Japanese invasion of China, World War II, the Korean War, the disastrous Great Leap Forward, the vicious Cultural Revolution, the Vietnam War, Nixon's visit, and the constant, unending purges all, understandably, provide the backdrop for Mao's unscrupulous but invincible political maneuverings and betrayals. No one escaped unharmed. Rivals, families, peasants, city dwellers, soldiers, and lifelong allies such as Chou En-lai were all sacrificed to Mao's ambition and paranoia. Appropriately, the authors' consciences are appalled. Their biggest fear is that Mao will escape the global condemnation and infamy he deserves. Their astonishing book will go a long way to ensure that the pendulum of history will adjust itself accordingly. --Silvana Tropea --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Jung Chang, author of the award-winning Wild Swans, grew up during the Cultural Revolution; Halliday is a research fellow at King's College, University of London. They join forces in this sweeping but flawed biography, which aims to uncover Mao's further cruelties (beyond those commonly known) by debunking claims made by the Communist Party in his service. For example, the authors argue that, far from Mao's humble peasant background shaping his sympathies for the downtrodden, he actually ruthlessly exploited the peasants' resources when he was based in regions such as Yenan, and cared about peasants only when it suited his political agenda. And far from having founded the Chinese Communist Party, the authors argue, Mao was merely at the right place at the right time. Importantly, the book argues that in most instances Mao was able to hold on to power thanks to his adroitness in appealing to and manipulating powerful allies and foes, such as Stalin and later Nixon; furthermore, almost every aspect of his career was motivated by a preternatural thirst for personal power, rather than political vision. Some of the book's claims rely on interviews and on primary material (such as the anguished letters Mao's second wife wrote after he abandoned her), though the book's use of sources is sometimes incompletely documented and at times heavy-handed (for example, using a school essay the young Mao wrote to show his lifelong ruthlessness). Illus., maps. (Oct. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frank Rayal on April 3 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the only Mao biography I read, so I cannot compare to other books. However, the book on its own makes for an easy read and a very interesting one at that. It is a true page turner. The authors are biased against Mao, and cannot be blamed for that considering the consequences of Mao's actions and in particular the effect on Jung Chang and her family. Nevertheless, I don't think this distract from the scholarship. The amount of research that went into this book is large. In all, it does show a very dark and selfish character that is quiet shocking. It is a highly recommended book to also understand the history of China in the 20th century.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Allan Tong on Dec 25 2005
Format: Hardcover
Whatever side of the political fence you sit on (left or right), you will find this book engrossing. This book (years in the making) sets a new standard about the life of the twentieth century's most powerful man.
The research is staggering, and is painstakingly detailed in large sections at the book of the book which lists recent interviews and printed documents (past and present). Despite his accomplishments, there's no denying that Mao caused the deaths of millions of his countrymen, and held back the economic, political and cultural progress of the world's largest nation.
In particular, the Cultural Revolution of the 60s remains the most shameful and horrifying chapter in recent Chinese history. Survivors of that era have recounted their horror stories many times, and this book corroborates their accounts.
One thing remains common in every era of Maoist China: his appetite for power. Mao deserves credit for ousting the "foreign barbarians" uniting China under one flag, but in the end Mao was another Chinese emperor, a despot who clung to power too long for the country's good and wound up destroying whatever legacy he had built in his early life.
This sentiment will offend Maoists -- and there remain many among the Chinese, just like JFK is a sacred cow to the Americans, Trudeau for Canadians, and Churchill to the Brits. But Mao's legacy is covered in blood, not glory, and this monumental book tells why. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex North on Dec 16 2009
Format: Paperback
The adage " Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it " has become somewhat more complicated as the speed of revisionism has accelerated through technology. Yet, having access to written records and well researched personal experiences at a far faster pace has not proven to be a definitive academic boundary for accuracy.
Although ' Mao : The Unknown Story ' is a welcome and necessary addition to the the progression of ' truth ' , I must agree with many of the book's critics that many of the intimate projections of a Major Sociopath.... that what Mao embodied ..... is not presented or justified adequately in the book.
The author's attempt to place the reader in the Mao's mind fails.
I recognize the brutality and political devastation he caused.... Mao:The Unknown Story is heavily weighted with well researched documentation of these occurances.
But the insights into Mao's mind, largely alarming and pointed are not convincing.
Overall,I recommend this telling of a major 20th century political explosion, and if ever the writers' claim that Mao was carried in a litter for the majority of ' The Long March ' can be validated, I will order a second copy for my grand-daughter, for Nationalistic Myths can cause a lot of sorrow.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By James Ryan on Dec 14 2005
Format: Hardcover
Very thorougly done. Groundbreaking information... well documented sources to back it up.
Fascinating read--very few uninteresting stretches
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Mcisaac on Aug. 6 2011
Format: Paperback
Mao: The Unknown Story, Jung Chang, Jon Halliday, Alfred Knopf Pub., 2005, pp. 814

This book is extremely well-researched supported by many end notes, references, historical pictures and maps. Many sources are recent revealing hitherto unknown facts about this monster. My purpose here is an attempt to induce you to read this book so you truly know what nature mistakenly produced. Unfortunately, in order for the Party not to have to admit years of errors, this notorious person is still worshipped as China's hero.

'All it is, is a big pile of people dying' (p. 414) This is mao's response when ask about the destruction caused by a nuclear attack on China. This is how he saw the people in every confrontation or incident he created. Phrases and poetic lines similar to this were used repeatedly when he was informed the people were starving; this is what he thought of those who died in battles (many designed purposely by him); this is how he felt when shipping new conscripts to the fronts in Korea, Vietnam and India; this is why he could prolong the Korean war and still sleep; this is why he could set quotas for people to be executed under fabricated stories; this why he was a married womanizer (four times) and cared nothing for his children; this is why he could sell billions of dollars worth of food stuff to Russia and virtually give it away to other countries whose patronage he sought, while millions suffered from starvation in his own country; this is why he could feast on gourmet food, some shipped from France, while demanding the people eat tree leaves and not eat any more than 140 g per day; this is why I judge him to be the personification of evil itself. Why does China still honor this epitome of destruction?
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