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The most authoritative life of Mao ever written, by the bestselling author of Wild Swans, Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Halliday.
Jung Chang was born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China, in 1952. She was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen and then worked as a peasant, a 'barefoot doctor', a steelworker and an electrician before becoming an English-language student and, later, an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a PhD in Linguistics in 1982 - the first person from the People's Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British university. Her award-winning book, Wild Swans, was published in 1991. Jon Halliday is a former Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King's College, University of London. He has written or edited eight previous books.
Jung moves from the personal-her huge best seller, Wild Swans, inter-twined her story of life in Communist China with the stories of her mother and grandmother-to the political. Halliday chimes in with his University of London credentials. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Jung Chang, author of the award-winning Wild Swans, grew up during the Cultural Revolution; Halliday is a research fellow at King's College, University of London. They join forces in this sweeping but flawed biography, which aims to uncover Mao's further cruelties (beyond those commonly known) by debunking claims made by the Communist Party in his service. For example, the authors argue that, far from Mao's humble peasant background shaping his sympathies for the downtrodden, he actually ruthlessly exploited the peasants' resources when he was based in regions such as Yenan, and cared about peasants only when it suited his political agenda. And far from having founded the Chinese Communist Party, the authors argue, Mao was merely at the right place at the right time. Importantly, the book argues that in most instances Mao was able to hold on to power thanks to his adroitness in appealing to and manipulating powerful allies and foes, such as Stalin and later Nixon; furthermore, almost every aspect of his career was motivated by a preternatural thirst for personal power, rather than political vision. Some of the book's claims rely on interviews and on primary material (such as the anguished letters Mao's second wife wrote after he abandoned her), though the book's use of sources is sometimes incompletely documented and at times heavy-handed (for example, using a school essay the young Mao wrote to show his lifelong ruthlessness). Illus., maps. (Oct. 21) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"The first great political biography of the twenty-first century" -- Frank Johnson * Spectator * "This is a bombshell of a book... Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done this extraordinary country a huge service with this book, which will one day be read as widely within China as it will deservedly be in the outside world" -- Chris Patten * The Times * "Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life... Magnificent... It is a stupendous work" -- Michael Yahuda * Guardian * "Devastating... Awesome... Mesmerising... The most powerful, compelling and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will" -- George Walden * Daily Mail * "A triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research. This is the first intimate, political biography of the greatest monster of them all" -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Sunday Times *