Magazine article New Internationalist

Mao: The Unknown Story

Magazine article New Internationalist

Mao: The Unknown Story

Article excerpt

Mao The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (Jonathan Cape/ Random House ISBN 0 224 07126 2)

This book is not just another biography. Its 650-odd pages present nothing short of character assassination. According to Jung Chang, author of the best-selling Wild Swans, and her husband, British academic Jon Halliday, Mao Zedong has absolutely no redeeming features. He is a powermad, murderous monster who not only places no value on human life but actively enjoys witnessing their torture and victimization. He is a compulsive philanderer who discards his first three wives without even bothering to divorce them. He enjoys luxuries while people the length and breadth of the country are starving. He is, they say, a worse tyrant even than Stalin and Hitler, responsible for the deaths of 70 million people.

I started reading the book on my sceptical guard-equating Mao with Hitler seemed an absurd proposition. And at times the determination to paint Mao in the worst possible colours becomes ridiculous - the authors put a negative spin on his love for his mother, they give him no credit for any Red victories or ideas, and they even say he may have helped cause the strokes that killed Stalin and Nehru. Such bias makes you wonder how many contradicting testimonies were disregarded. …

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