Mao by Jung Chang

Mao by Jung Chang 1

Mao by Jung Chang is a biography of the Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. The book covers Mao’s early life, his introduction to the Chinese Communist Party, and his political career.

It summarizes Mao’s transition from a rebel against the autocratic Kuomintang government to the totalitarian dictator over the People’s Republic of China. Chang and Halliday heavily cover Mao’s role in the planning and execution of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The book portrays Mao as being moved only by power, sadism, and money. It claims that Mao’s secret goal was to dominate the world, and in chasing this dream, he caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao’s rule – in peacetime.

Main themes of the book include Mao’s rise to power, his brutal tactics to maintain control, and the devastating impact of his policies on the Chinese people. The book also highlights the cult of personality that surrounded Mao and the propaganda machine that helped to sustain it.

What I Liked

This book is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Mao is one of the, if not the, single most powerful individual in human history (as measured by absolute power X number of individuals). And this biography does his life justice (in all the awfulness and complexity).

It is a textbook study on power, manipulation, brilliance, and pure unadulterated evil. Innumerable lessons (good and bad) from a man who ruled over more people than anyone else – ever.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – it’s a fascinating read.

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