Mao Zedong: A Life
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“Spence draws upon his extensive knowledge of Chinese politics and culture to create an illuminating picture of Mao. . . . Superb.” (Chicago Tribune)
From humble origins in the provinces, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, colonialism, and war. This sharply drawn and insightful account brings to life this modern-day emperor and the tumultuous era that he did so much to shape.
Jonathan Spence captures Mao in all his paradoxical grandeur and sheds light on the radical transformation he unleashed that still reverberates in China today.
relativity to Margaret Sanger’s birth-control advice and Rabindranath Tagore’s pacifist communalism. It was an unusually bewildering time to be young. It was at this time, according to Mao’s later candid comment to Edgar Snow, that he “fell in love with Yang Kaihui,” the daughter of his former ethics teacher. She was just eighteen, and Mao was twenty-five. Mao recalled those winter months of early 1919 with unusual lyricism, perhaps because he still saw it with the aid of her eyes. It was, he
been swept away by the pace of events, like everyone else. “The time was so short and the events so violent” that the Red Guards had erupted and taken things into their own hands. “Since it was I who caused the havoc, it is understandable if you have some bitter words for me.” Yet, as he had done in 1959, after being criticized by Peng Dehuai, Mao continued to pursue the policies that he knew might not be working in the short term, but from which he still expected great things. The early stage
Red Army’s Three-Year War in South China, 1934-1938 (Berkeley, 1992), explores the lives of those Communists left behind at the time of the Long March. Chapter 8 Rather surprisingly, there is still no definitive book on the 1945-1949 civil war in China. The policies of the Soviet Union during the war are summarized in James Reardon-Anderson, Yenan and the Great Powers: The Origins of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy, 1944-1946 (New York, 1980). Saich, Rise to Power, again gives the key
Bian, ed., Mao Zedong he tade mishu Tian Jiaying (Beijing, 1989). Background documents on Mao’s rural reforms are given in Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, vol. 5 (Peking, 1977), especially pp. 184-90 and 198-99. The important original draft of the February 1957 “Contradictions” speech is translated in full in Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, and Eugene Wu, eds., The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), pp. 131-89. The
number of political parties were formed and competed for seats in the new Chinese parliament—among them Sun Yat-sen’s previously illegal and underground Revolutionary Alliance, now renamed the “Nationalist Party” (Guomindang). Candidates and voters in these elections had to be male, with certain educational or economic qualifications, and the elections were hard-fought, with the Nationalist Party winning the largest plurality but not an absolute majority. In a tragedy for China, Song Jiaoren, a