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.
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.
Very well researched. Amazing that such an evil man was able to rise to power the way he did. Scary that some politicians in Canada and the US actually admired him.Published 18 months ago by Duncan Jacob
I have read her book Wild Swan, then this, and I am really fond of them, and I think Ms.Jung's writing style is more maturied in this book. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Sherman.zhou
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,... Read more
I purchased the book from this seller because of the excellent reviews it had received, not because had the lowest price. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2010 by A. Grant
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. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2009 by Alex North
This is a fascinating book, though written by a biased and unqualified author. Unfortunately, previous reviewer Allan Tong is way off the mark and unfortunately has no... Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2009 by DF
The story in Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's Mao, the Unknown Story is about the Chinese Palace Coup on October 6, 1976. However, the story is Chinese folklore. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2008 by Mark
Chang and Halliday's Mao, Unknown Story is good, but it is not good as The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr. Read morePublished on Dec 8 2007 by Henry Wood
Outsiders are little aware of the great disasters that took place in the Mao era. But why did they happen? This book is a serious attempt by studying Mao the person. Read morePublished on May 30 2006 by china-life 20 years