A central tenet of Maoist ideology was the rejection of both ancient Chinese tradition and modern Western science, both of which offered an ample store of evidence to suggest that rivers flow best when unimpeded, that biological diversity is a good and necessary thing. Instead, Mao Zedong insisted, the laws of historical materialism mandated that everything in creation be put into the service of the revolution: Forests had to be felled to make steel for China's industrial development, mountains had to be leveled to make room for agricultural fields, rivers had to be reversed in their courses to provide power and irrigation. Marshaling the people of China in campaigns to clear land and destroy grain-hungry birds, among other things, Mao remade the landscape in just a few years, ordering imperial-scale projects such as the Three Gorges Dam. His policies led to disaster, to deforestation, air and water pollution, and ultimately famine--but some of those policies are still in force.
Shapiro observes that Mao Zedong cannot be held entirely accountable for the destruction of China's land, water, and air; he had, after all, many willing deputies. Still, the political repression he put in place made resistance almost impossible--and even today, Shapiro writes in her impressive study of Mao's war on the environment, his actions have proved difficult to undo. "Until China confronts its uneasy Maoist legacy," the author concludes, "it may struggle fruitlessly to achieve a sustainable relationship with the natural world." --Gregory McNamee
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Shapiro's book is fascinating history that illuminates many of China's current environmental views and problems. Well researched with strong conclusions.Published 9 months ago by F. Elkington
There is a reason Shapiro is so often cited in other books -- this is an excellent book that surveys the destructive and creative force of Maoist policies, and the human strife... Read morePublished 23 months ago by James Berlin
Buy it, borrow it or steal it... But read it, if you are interested in environment, history, political science, sociology and socio-cultural anthroplogy.Published on August 25, 2011 by H. Venugopalan Nair Rad
Book was much appreciated. Useful for a specific research project; well written but could have had more detail, which would be difficult given the enormity of the subject. Read morePublished on September 29, 2008 by N. Ludlow
Even the most casual look at Chinese panoramic art over the centuries reveals an emphasis on nature. Read morePublished on September 13, 2007 by Newton Ooi