Mao (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Mao: The Unknown Story focuses on the vast dark side of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung in Wade-Giles transliteration), the Chinese Communist leader who rose to power to rule a unified mainland China for twenty-seven years until his death in 1976. The authors passionately demonstrate that Mao was driven by selfish goals, quickly developed a penchant for brutality, and ruthlessly sought to achieve supreme power, often relying on bloody purges. With considerable historical justification, the authors hold Mao responsible for the deaths of seventy million Chinese in peacetime.
At the end of 2005, Mao was still officially venerated in the People’s Republic of China, his portrait looming over Tiananmen Square and printed on China’s currency. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s book is a welcome antidote to the idea that history is written by the victors. In the West, for too long, lack of free access to mainland Chinese sources and archives and, until 1989, those of the former Soviet Union, led too many to rely on Mao’s propaganda machine in order to form a somewhat benign picture of the man. While his responsibility for the murderous Great Famine of 1958-1961, which killed approximately thirty-five million people, and his reveling in the carnage of the Cultural Revolution has generally been acknowledged, the true nature of his rule and personality has still been often glossed over. After reading Mao, one hopes that any lingering affection for Mao...
(The entire section is 1856 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 102, no. 1 (September 1, 2005): 47.
The Economist 375 (May 28, 2005): 83.
Foreign Affairs 84, no. 6 (November/December, 2005): 153-154.
Maclean’s 188 (October 31, 2005): 52-53.
The New Leader 88, no. 5 (September/October, 2005): 24-26.
The New York Review of Books 52, no. 17 (November 3, 2005): 23-24.
The New York Times Book Review 155 (October 23, 2005): 1-11.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 35 (September 5, 2005): 51.
Time 166, no. 18 (October 31, 2005): 82.
The Times Literary Supplement, July 22, 2005, pp. 22-23.
(The entire section is 54 words.)