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Although LJ's reviewer found the book "too cerebral to be effective," he nonetheless praised Tuten for being able to "reduce Mao to human dimensions, to present his loves, his doubts, and his fears." In addition, the author "writes well and is knowledgeable" (LJ 12/1/71). Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A violently hilarious book .soda pop, a cold towel, a shady spot under a tree for culture-clogged foot soldiers. -- Susan Sontag
Almost too good to be true. -- The New York Times
Delightful and originalfunny and bitter and serious. -- Iris Murdoch
Weird and comic stuff. -- The Beat Scene
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
I read this book in the seventies. Its depiction of Mao was accurate and fascinating as to Mao's almost hallucinatory erudition. Of course it left out his brutal, autocratic side; it Caesarized him. I do not regard this as a flaw. Tuten was not trying to sell Mao or Maoism, but to open a magic door into his complex, vivid world. The interview portion was excellent; it fooled the Partisan review, which was quite miffed when it could not publish it as a true interview. It is a history of a facet of Mao's imagination: he had an amazing capacity to realize what he could imagine. Tuten makes this clear in Western terms, doing us all a service. His writing is imaginative and vital, and when you read the book you cannot imagine being elsewhere.
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This is not about CHina, any more than Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" is about Virginia Woolf. For info on Mao and the Long March, see Edgar Snow's "Red Star Over China" or Harrison Salisbury's "The Long March."