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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Politics » Political Ideologies » Communism & Socialism

China Under Mao

A Revolution Derailed

By Andrew G. Walder

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Format: Hardcover, 440 pages
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United States, 01 April 2015
China's Communist Party seized power in 1949 after a long period of guerrilla insurgency followed by full-scale war, but the Chinese revolution was just beginning. China Under Mao narrates the rise and fall of the Maoist revolutionary state from 1949 to 1976--an epoch of startling accomplishments and disastrous failures, steered by many forces but dominated above all by Mao Zedong.

Mao's China, Andrew Walder argues, was defined by two distinctive institutions established during the first decade of Communist Party rule: a Party apparatus that exercised firm (sometimes harsh) discipline over its members and cadres; and a socialist economy modeled after the Soviet Union. Although a large national bureaucracy had oversight of this authoritarian system, Mao intervened strongly at every turn. The doctrines and political organization that produced Mao's greatest achievements--victory in the civil war, the creation of China's first unified modern state, a historic transformation of urban and rural life--also generated his worst failures: the industrial depression and rural famine of the Great Leap Forward and the violent destruction and stagnation of the Cultural Revolution.

Misdiagnosing China's problems as capitalist restoration and prescribing continuing class struggle against imaginary enemies as the solution, Mao ruined much of what he had built and created no viable alternative. At the time of his death, he left China backward and deeply divided.


This is a masterful synthesis of the literature on Mao Zedong's China and of Walder's own extensive sociological research. He combines Mao-centered political history with close attention to the organizational characteristics of the Communist Party, which explain its responsiveness to Mao Zedong's often disastrous initiatives. In the author's view, Mao was a 'rigidly dogmatic leader with extremely narrow and outdated ideas.' The book is replete with similarly incisive judgments. These will no doubt provoke controversy, but in the end, they are likely to be accepted.--Thomas P. Bernstein, Columbia University

EAN: 9780674058156
ISBN: 0674058151
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Dimensions: 23.88 x 16 x 3.3 centimetres (0.67 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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