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A Critical Introduction to Mao Paperback – October 21, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"It is important to understand Mao, and this book makes a contribution to such understanding."-Hong Kong Economic Journal

"Timothy Cheek's anthology 'A Critical Introduction to Mao' attest[s] to the difficulty of definitively fixing Mao's image, a project that amounts to writing a history of China's present.... The most stimulating chapters in the academic collection... discuss Mao's "Sinification" of a European tradition of revolution."-The New Yorker

"The chapters in Cheek's collection contribute to an understanding of Mao Zedong that is as messy and complex as it is compelling. The text, moreover, encourages readers to engage the problem of knowing the historical Mao, while reminding the reader of the equal importance of Mao's ahistorical legacy." - Brian J. DeMare, Tulane University, Twentieth Century China and The China Beat

Book Description

Mao Zedong's political career spanned more than half a century. The ideas he championed transformed one of the largest nations on earth and inspired revolutionary movements across the world. Even today Mao lives on in China, where he is regarded by many as a near-mythical figure, and in the West, where a burgeoning literature continues to debate his memory. In this book, leading scholars from different generations and around the world offer a critical evaluation of the life and legacy of China's most famous - some would say infamous - son.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (August 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521711541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521711548
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,526,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Hande Z on November 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a book of critical essays on the diverse aspects of Mao Zedong. If China is a large and complex nation, Mao was a large and complex persona. As the editor Timothy Cheek wrote, "No one comes to the question of Mao innocent of impressions". Mao was at heart a Marxist-Leninist but he was first a scholar and an intellectual who read and tried various philosophies and felt, like Lenin, that his vast country had stagnated so badly that it required a revolution to turn it round. He led the Chinese Communist Party and in its early history, led it to cohabit with its rival, Guomingdang, the Nationalist party of Chiang Kai Shek. When they fell out, he was left at one stage with no more than 10,000 followers, outnumbered by more than 100 to one.

Mao was a man of great charisma and a natural leader and his greatest challenge was to inspire able leaders like himself - Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, and keep the reactionary faction which included Lin Biao and Mao's own wife Jiang Qing at bay. He was an icon whose economic policies was questionable but in some other areas, beyond doubt that they were marvelous. He deplored arranged marriages (though his first marriage was arranged by his parents) and promoted free marriage. Mao clearly freed the peasantry from more than 2,000 of oppression, but his effort to create a socialist, egalitarian society invokes debate. The reader may find that an understanding of Chinese history especially after 1911 will be helpful in better appreciating this small (352-page) but immensely informative and thought-provoking book; and the better to judge Mao and his achievements.
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