Mao: The Real Story

Alexander Pantsov, Author, Steven I Levine, Author
Alexander V. Pantsov with Steven I. Levine. Simon & Schuster, $35 (768p) ISBN 978-1-4516-5447-9
Reviewed on: 06/18/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Paperback - 755 pages - 978-1-4516-5448-6
Ebook - 784 pages - 978-1-4516-5449-3
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While early biographies of Mao Zedong (1893–1976) beginning with Edgar Snow’s 1936 Thunder out of China were worshipful, new biographies have revealed the extent of his ruthlessness. With access to recently opened Soviet and Chinese archives, Russian-émigré historian Pantsov(The Bolsheviks and the Chinese Revolution, 1919–1927), together with China expert Levine (Anvil of Victory: The Communist Revolution in Manchuria), continues this trend, often contradicting previous accounts. They relate in detail how Mao, who joined the Communist Party in 1920, fought his way, often murderously, to its leadership in the 1930s. After Japan’s 1937 invasion, he consolidated his strength while the forces of Chiang Kai-shek, head of the autocratic Nationalist government, took the brunt of the fighting before losing the post-1945 civil war. Taking power in 1949, Mao established a Stalinist autocracy featuring purges, massive social upheaval, and disastrous economic policies. Official Chinese histories extol his fierce independence—even of Joseph Stalin—but Pantsov reveals that Mao took pains to remain a faithful follower until Stalin’s 1952 death. Although dense with the minutiae of Chinese politics, persistent readers will encounter plenty of fireworks in this definitive biography. 16 pages of b&w photos, maps. Agent: Peter Bernstein, Peter Bernstein Agency (Oct.)
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