Summary of Mao

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Mao book summary


9 Overall

10 Innovation

7 Style


This excellent book is difficult to read only because it catalogs such an exhausting array of tortures, mutilations, betrayals, adulteries, treasons, murders and other crimes. Authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done an extraordinary job of compiling a wealth of information. They had access to Soviet archives that shed new light on Mao’s rise to - and ruthless exercise of - power. If the book has a defect, it is that despite the authors’ 10 years of exhaustive research, readers may find this report of staggering cruelty almost impossible to believe. There’s no denying that it’s thoroughly reported. However the authors have a distinct negative bias. No matter how well backgrounded, it can also be perceived as a form of anti-Mao propaganda. Yet if even a fraction of what is here reported were true, it could all be true. getAbstract finds this book relevant, not only to historians, but also to anyone doing business in China or simply curious about the country. Chinese society made Mao - one of history’s worst mass murderers - possible and Mao, in turn, indelibly marked Chinese society. It is impossible to know one without knowing the other.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What horrible reality has been masked by the myth of Mao; and
  • How violence formed the roots of modern China.

About the Authors

Jung Chang was born in Sichuan in 1952. She was a Red Guard, a barefoot doctor and electrician before becoming an English language student and teacher at Sichuan University. Her book, Wild Swans, was published in 1991. Her husband, Jon Halliday has written or edited eight previous books.



Consistent Themes
The life of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) plays out certain consistent themes: selfishness, violence and betrayal. He despised the people of China, Chinese traditions and his father, though he loved his mother. As a young student, he wrote, "I do not agree with the...

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