The most authoritative life of Mao ever written, by the bestselling author of Wild Swans and her husband
Jung Chang is the author of the award-winning Wild Swans. 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.
"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." -- Simon Sebag Montefiore Sunday Times "Decisive biography...they have investigated every aspect of his personal life and career, peeling back the layers of lies, myths, and what we used to think of as facts...what Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, all that has gone before." -- Jonathan Mirsky Independent "The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in its horror, is 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 "Ever since the spectacular success of Chang's Wild Swans, we have waited impatiently for her to complete with her husband this monumental study of China's most notorious modern leader. The expectation has been that she would rewrite modern Chinese history. The wait has been worthwhile and the expectation justified. This is a bombshell of a book." -- Chris Patten The Times "This book's strength is [Chang and Halliday's] understanding of the importance of bringing the human, or inhuman, alive in Mao's story. This, they do brilliantly." -- Richard McGregor Financial Times 20050618