Mao Zedong: A Life
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“Spence draws upon his extensive knowledge of Chinese politics and culture to create an illuminating picture of Mao. . . . Superb.” (Chicago Tribune)
From humble origins in the provinces, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, colonialism, and war. This sharply drawn and insightful account brings to life this modern-day emperor and the tumultuous era that he did so much to shape.
Jonathan Spence captures Mao in all his paradoxical grandeur and sheds light on the radical transformation he unleashed that still reverberates in China today.
to take a prominent part in politics, and Communist Party membership expanded dramatically: still under a thousand in early 1925, the Communist Party had expanded to over 57,000 members by the spring of 1927. Aided by Comintern advisers, and by the well-trained junior officers graduating from the military academy that the two parties had established at Whampoa near Canton, both the Communists and the Guomindang rapidly expanded their military base as well. Chiang Kai-shek, a former trusted aide
insulated from the most desperate areas of the fighting. That took place between the Japanese army and the regular military forces of the Nationalists’ Guomindang armies on the north China plain, in Shanghai, and along the Yangtze River. Especially in protracted fighting around Shanghai, the Nationalists suffered immense losses. After the terrible “rape of Nanjing” by the Japanese on December 7,1937, brought a literal and symbolic end to any myths of Guomindang power in their own capital city,
second son, Anqing, returned home, too, but to Harbin, where he arrived in 1947. He Zizhen also returned in 1947, with her daughter, Li Min; she did not see Mao at this time, and later made her own way to Shanghai. It was from his northern retreat in Shaanxi, in September 1947, that Mao issued what came to be seen as one of his most important pronouncements on military strategy. He wrote in the context of the struggle in China as it was being waged at that time, with the idea of tracing
soon, said Mao (he actually did so in the spring of 1959), and he would then start writing his own regular column in the paper. When one of Mao’s confidential secretaries, who had been present throughout, reminded the chairman that he had personally approved many of the policies and procedures he was now attacking, Mao responded, “Well, if it was like that, I was confused.” Deng was dismissed as editor that June. The intervention of the confidential secretary highlights another of the groups
asked him to write their application essays for them, and with a written promise of renewed support from his family if he was admitted, Mao applied in the fall of 1913. He and his friends were all accepted. “In reality, therefore, I was accepted three times,” as Mao put it. This was the school that drew things together for Mao; it gave him support and focus through teachers he both admired and respected, and a group of friends with whom to share life’s travails and adventures. Mao was to stay