Monday, February 18, 2013

Mao: The Unknown Story

[October 2009] From the outset, it is clear that the authors' are not fond of Mao. He is cast in an extremely negative light as somebody who does just what is in his own best interest, with no respect for others, or even his own legacy. Many of his "accomplishments" are passed off as the works of others. (For example, the victory in the Chinese civil war is predominantly seen as a result of bad moves by the nationalists, often due to external factors.)
This overly negative view, however, does serve to paint a picture of Mao as a person, rather than the deity that arises in Maoist propaganda. Unlike fascists of his era, Mao was able to die in is sleep. Also, unlike other major communist countries, China's communist government still remains in place today. Thus, the balanced view of Mao still remains a great challenge. This book may swing the pendulum a little too far to the negative, but remains an important step in understanding an important historical figure.
In spite of the book's length, I did find it lacking in Mao's early history. He seemed to suddenly arrive in a key leadership position in the early communist party, seemingly without any strong qualifications. From the book, it is unclear why people would have such song support for a seemingly unqualified schemer.

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