cover image The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng

The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng

Harrison Evans Salisbury. Little Brown and Company, $24.95 (544pp) ISBN 978-0-316-80910-8

Salisbury's crowning achievement, this incredibly vivid, gripping dual biography of China's two modern emperors--Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping--is also a revelatory history of modern China's transformation. As Mao's young lieutenant, Red Army commander Deng (b. 1904) led the Long March that cost Chiang Kaishek one million men. Although Deng tirelessly fought for Mao's political viewpoints, Mao (1892-1976) during his dementia of the 1970s ousted his acolyte, subjecting Deng to torture, imprisonment and exile. Mao believed himself infallible. His hero was China's first emperor, barbaric Qin, who slaughtered Chinese by the hundreds of thousands. Deng, ``at heart a small dragon, not a supreme dragon like Mao,'' is nevertheless another absolutist emperor. Drawing on years of travel, interviews and research in China, Salisbury ( Tiananmen Diary ) provides countless new details on key events. Among Salisbury's findings: Mao was excluded from the initial planning of the Korean War, which took him by surprise; Deng played a major role in Mao's brutal ``anti-rightist'' campaign of 1958. This epic double portrait deserves to become a classic. Photos. (Feb.)