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The Unknown Mao

There is a new book, Mao : The Unknown Story and it does not portray the Chairman in favourable light. In the interview (click on Listen) on National Public Radio, the authors, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday portray Mao as a brutal dictator who thought that he had the best moral values and had the freedom to control the lives of others.

They describe of a time when Mao himself as a young man had little faith in the communist party of which he was a member. He was more interested in reading books and started as a bookseller selling Communist literature. Then on a visit to his home province of Hunan he was impressed by thug violence. He wrote that that travel of 32 days changed his life and he felt a certain “esctacy”.

Mao was spotted by Stalin and pushed to the top of Communist party. Since the Chinese Communist party was started by the Soviets they had a say in the affairs. But once he took control over the party, he conducted his first purge even before his sponsor Stalin, who took a few more years to murder people. Even though people complained about him to the Soviets, they were ignored. The authors also accuse that even during the Long March, Mao had to be carried and did not march with the people many of whom he purged later.

Nicholas D. Kristof reviews it for The New York Times

After Mao comes to power, Chang and Halliday show him continuing his thuggery. This is more familiar ground, but still there are revelations. Mao used the Korean War as a chance to slaughter former Nationalist soldiers. And Mao says some remarkable things about the peasants he was supposed to be championing. When they were starving in the 1950’s, he instructed: “Educate peasants to eat less, and have more thin gruel. The State should try its hardest . . . to prevent peasants eating too much.” In Moscow, he offered to sacrifice the lives of 300 million Chinese, half the population at the time, and in 1958 he blithely declared of the overworked population: “Working like this, with all these projects, half of China may well have to die.” [‘Mao’: The Real Mao]

As expected, this book is banned in China and so are all references to reviews of the book. Hence it has to be read.

One Response to The Unknown Mao

  1. Kuttan October 26, 2005 at 9:37 am #

    I wonder whether the communists would try to get this book banned in India with their new found clout in central govt.

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