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Red Star over China: The Classic Account of the Birth of Chinese Communism Paperback – February 16, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0802150936 ISBN-10: 0802150934 Edition: Revised
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Red Star over China: The Classic Account of the Birth of Chinese Communism + Mao's Little Red Book: A Global History + A Critical Introduction to Mao
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (February 16, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802150934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150936
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan (Kjudos) on May 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Written before the Communist Revolution ['49] but after the Long March, this book offers a first-hand biography on Mao Zedong, and tells an engaging story of the Communist advance. Edgar Snow got in behind Communist lines to interview Mao Zedong himself, and so he is as much part of the history as he is a witness to it. His opinions of Mao Zedong are positive and his hopes for the Communist Party are optimistic. I found it a compulsive read until I got perhaps 3/4 the way through, at which point it became a kind of chore to complete. Snow is famous for often being completely wrong about China - travelling through China during the abortive 'Great Leap Forward', where between 30 and 60 million people starved to death, Snow never caught on to a thing - but still this book makes for utterly fascinating reading, if only for its personal insights into Mao Zedong. Still a good read, but not a useful historical source unless one has an understanding of how things eventually progressed. Put simply, it's a marvellous perspective of China at this time, but it's neither a retrospect nor a history.
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49 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Nick Zarter on February 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
With most Americans sadly ignorant of China and its past, this book provides an incredible inside look at the Chinese revolution and the beginning of communism. Snow's trip through rural provinces and villages during the country's civil war is an adventure in itself. The interviews he does with China's up and coming rulers are purely fasinating, allowing the western public its first chance to get to know such giants as Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai on a more personal level.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Snow truly did Sinology a tremendous favor when he ventured into the soviet area years ago. Red Star Over China stands as an archetypical example of "pre-TV" journalism at its finest. Snow's captivating writing style allows the reader to truly feel as if they are riding along with the "red bandits" as they move through the hills of China conducting guerilla warfare. What Snow has to tell us about Mao, is as fascinating as anything that has been brought up about him in the post-Mao era. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is not just a history book, it, in itself is a part of history, truly a classic.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been dabbling in Chinese history over the past few years and was intrigued by many of the topics in this book.
Understand before you read this book that the author is an unabashed fan of Communist movement in China--all good things come from the Red Army and all bad things come from the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek. I was reading this book to get a closer look at the men who would lead China in years to come, so Snow's cheerleading was only a minor distraction. The book was published in the late 1930s, long before the war was won. I found it very interesting to read about Peng Dehuai's background and his stature in the Red Army knowing the fate that would meet him years later during the Great Leap Forward.
He sets the stage nicely with the conditions that made successful revolution and civil war possible. He does a pretty good job in describing the main players, although I would have liked much more on Zhou Enlai.
In some passages, the book moves along nicely, especially around the Long March. In other sections, he can get a little bogged down in details that don't seem to add up to much.
Also note that the book uses the Yale system of transliteration, not Pinyin. "Zhu De" will appear as "Chu Teh", for instance.
I learned quite a few things, and got a new perspective on one of the most important events in the 20th Century -- the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Edgar Snow writes a compelling account of the birth of Chinese Communism in his book Red Star Over China. His book is largely unprecedented because of the fact that China was only just parting from isolationism and had not previously allowed citizens of Western countries to enter into China. Snow moved near Yenching University in Shanghai, China to become a correspondent journalist there. The proximity to the university allowed Snow to meet many Chinese intellectuals and writers whom he would befriend. One of his most important friendships was with the Western-educated Madame Sun, the wife of Sun Yat-sen.
In the first part of Red Star Over China Snow begins by addressing some of the previously unanswered questions regarding Communist China. He uses a brigade of commonly asked questions to show just how uninformed many people were on topics such as the Red Army and the Communist Movement. He explains that in June of 1936, he received the opportunity to possibly answer some of these questions and that this is how Red Star Over China came into existence.
Edgar Snow describes his travels through China in first person. His details of the landscape of China, especially those of Sianfu, are very descriptive. As he took in the scenery, he expressed its beauty at length. Opium poppy fields and The Great Wall are among his most familiar sightings (page 54). This section of the book was important to international readers at the time it was written because, as previously discussed, many people knew nothing of China seeing as how its isolation had kept its landscape a mystery to many travelers. This narrative continues on through Snow's journey to the Red Capital.
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