[This article/review was originally published in April of 2014.]
The article that follows is a review of Mao — The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. However, I have chosen to include this Preliminary Note before the formal review for reasons that will soon become apparent to the reader. This authoritative biography and history comes in a hefty tome illustrated with many rare photographs as well as detailed Maps of specific areas discussed in the text, which actually ends on page 631. The supportive material includes an additional 85 pages of meticulously compiled Notes followed by a comprehensive Bibliography of Chinese as well as Non-Chinese Sources. There is also an Index and a List of Interviewees and Archives Consulted.
Although I have considerable experience with Amazon.com reviews, I found the early reviews of this book, with negative comments and votes in the thousands, shocking. The book was appreciated by most readers; nevertheless, it ended unjustly with a rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars because of an unfair, orchestrated, political campaign of vilification of which Mao himself would have been proud. This reminds me, frankly, of the Active Measures and Disinformation Department of the Soviet KGB, although of course this orchestration would not be directed from Moscow, but from Beijing, and bolstered by the remaining bastions of Marxism in Western academia. The brief Epilogue in Mao — The Unknown Story (page 631) reads: “Today, Mao’s portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital. The current Communist regime declares itself to be Mao’s heir and fiercely perpetuates the myth of Mao.” The same can also be said for the followers of Mao in the West, who have fiercely attacked the courageous authors for revealing that the Chinese idol of communism was indeed rotten at the core! My sincere congratulations to the authors, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, for this powerful exposé on Mao and The People’s Republic of China.
Review: This superb, comprehensive and authoritative biography of Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) as well as a history of China in the 20th century has a very appropriate subtitle — “The Unknown Story” — because much of the information here is not well known and is not found in other books on Mao or China. As such, the authors,
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, should be commended for their herculean task, vivid narration, and encyclopedic scholarship.
Among the many revelations, Mao — The Unknown Story depicts and documents Chairman Mao as the brutal monster he really was; how Mao desolated his own country and exterminated his own people, party cadres and impoverished peasants alike, even whole Red Army regiments. Mao committed in his blind rage whatever crimes were necessary to attain and preserve supreme political power. “Democracy,” “justice,” “equality,” ” fraternity,” “freedom” were just words to be used for propaganda purposes, not ideals to be pursued by Chinese communists!
Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), another paranoid-megalomaniac and monster who committed untold atrocities — e.g., purges, executions, mass starvations, deaths by labor camps in the Gulag, rule by terror, etc. — shared some characteristics with Mao, yet there were differences. Stalin, at least, had personal appeal as a Soviet vozdh, who could inspire leadership — fear was mixed with awe and even admiration as Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with a dictatorial iron fist.
This article was originally published at Hacienda Publishing. To continue reading, click here.
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