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388 of 407 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Chang's translation for "the Department of Propaganda", December 6, 2007
This review is from: Mao: The Unknown Story (Paperback)
A number of reviews, such as the one titled "Totalitarian mode of argument," have argued more eloquently than I could that this book's patronizing writing and judgmental presentation makes it read like totalitarian propaganda. I wanted to point out another bit of irony that no one else seems to have brought up.

In her previous book, Wild Swans, which has writing I admire but content that could benefit from more honesty, author Jung Chang notes in front that "in order to describe their functions accurately" she has changed the translation of "xuan-chuan-bu" ("the Department of Propaganda") to "the Department of Public Affairs." The author's father, a heroic character in the memoir, had been a co-director in such a department.

Guess how she translates the same "xuan-chuan-bu" in Mao: The Unknown Story? Well, you guessed it. It is changed back to "the Department of Propaganda." Mao once headed such a department. This time Chang does not provide a note on how much she cares about the translation accuracy.

So why the need to deploy hypocrisy?

Because: though Jung Chang was a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution, and her parents were active and loyal members of the Communist Party, they did nothing bad. They were all good. Objects that were once associated with them must be translated in commendatory terms accordingly. "Love the house, love the crows stopping on its roof."

And: Mao was evil from birth to death. He was all bad. Thus the same objects, when associated with him, must be translated in derogatory terms.

In China we call this "Red Guard language." Jung Chang was a Red Guard at the critical age of learning - and she apparently picked up the language well, even decades of living in the West have not made her drop it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 19, 2008 11:21:25 AM PST

Evidently your review is very popular with the PRC. But consider this:

As of JANUARY 19, 2 P.M. EST the reviewers for Jung Chang's MAO: The Unknown Story read as follow:

97 5 Star 40.8%
43 4 Star 18.5%
20 3 Star 8.5%
21 2 Star 8.9%
55 1 Star 23.4%

People that like the book (anti-Mao readers) outnumber people like you (pro-Mao) about 60% to 30%, or 2 to 1.

But all the reviews that like this book (anti-Mao) get pummeled on voting, while the reviews that hate the book (pro-Mao) get almost unanimous positive votes. The negative reviews of the book usually are in stilted English, and are simply not very well-written, nor are they indicative of having read the book. Xujun, your review does not indicate you read the book, it simply means you object with its content. You exhibit the 'Red Guard' language you so decry. (The Red Guards, themselves, would praise you)

Red Guards loved Mao and beat and killed their dissenters. Jung Chang's parents, and herself were persecuted, and many of her friends died during Mao's rule. Of course Jung Chang is biased, but she's also portraying one of the most evil times in Chinese history, and enough other sources back her up. Her bias can be forgiven. You, Mr. Xujun Xi-gua-tou (melonhead), on the other hand, prove the extent of China's propaganda. (And 197 of 202 positive votes as of today? Yeah, that's real natural)

I don't understand how anyone can defend Mao. And I don't understand why people are so small-minded they think a bunch of useless votes on Amazon is a way to keep pushing their propaganda.

Posted on Mar 18, 2012 7:22:59 AM PDT
Monte Jones says:
I remember back in the 1960's some people argued about the exact number of Jews that Hitler killed. Was it 6 million or only 3 million, as if finding an error in the number of his murders was a vindication of his evil. Mao Zedong killed between 60 million and 120 million people--his own people. He killed friends, he killed enemies, and he just killed to terrorize. Jung Chang's book is one of the best documented biographies ever written. I suggest you read it because you obviously have not.

Posted on May 23, 2015 2:59:25 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 23, 2015 2:59:55 AM PDT]
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