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World History Biographies: Mao Zedong: The…
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World History Biographies: Mao Zedong: The Rebel Who Led a Revolution

by Flora Geyer

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Mao Zedong: The Rebel Who Led a Revolution is a spectacularly beautiful book published by the National Geographic Society. While the content is interesting and provocative, it is the book's organization and style that makes is noteworthy. From cover to cover, the book is detailed and impeccable in its aesthetic and progression.
The end pages of the book are a vibrant, eye-catching -red, quite fitting for a biography of a man know for his own Little Red Book. Next, the copyright page is full of information including where the book was printed and bound, the names of the publisher, commissioning editor, art director, picture manager, consultant, as well as credits and explanations of photos and artwork on title pages and cover, something that I rarely see in young children's nonfiction literature. On the same page there is also a paragraph about the National Geographic Society, its mission statement, the company's address and number and website information. These first pages instill a confidence in the reader that this book will be one well-written and documented.
The contents page is aesthetically pleasing. Elements on this page, such as the floral-motif border, chinese characters lightly printed over a darker background, and what appears to be asian-styled buttons or broaches, can be found throughout the book, creating a sense of artistic unification. There are four section in the contents, each clearly and plainly titled. Then, within the four sections are subsections, entitled in a similar manner. There is no question as to how this book will develop.
Each of the book's four sections begins the same way: one page with the top-half containing the section's title, then a belt of the floral-motif border, biforcating the page. The bottom-half is a wallpaper-like block of color with the lightly printed characters pattern seen on the contents page. The adjacent page is a full-page photo or illustration. These section pages are bold, simple, and beautiful.
On the pages containing the content, there are headers with the section title, as well as the subsection title. Along the bottom is a timeline with facts about Mao, China and important historical events. Each individual timeline fact is printed on what appears to be a terracotta tile. The content is augmented by illustrations, photos, and factiods. Every graphic is accompanied by an explaination. Within each section is a special two-page, detailed explanation that helps to create a deeper understanding of Mao's China: the old ways of life, communism, the long march and cultural revolution. Each of these sections are visually distinct so the reader knows that a departure from the narrative is taking place. These cultural sections are interesting and help establish background that aids in developing a clearer picture of Mao.
The last subsection of the book poses a question: man or monster? Here, a case is made for both positions. This last section is followed by a glossary, bibliography, index and acknowledgements. The back cover of the book has a paragraph about Flora Geyer and Dr. Lars Laamann, the author and consultant, which lists their educational history. From beginning to end, this National Geographic biography is flawless. ( )
  jamiesque | Apr 15, 2012 |
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A biography of Mao Zedong, who is famous for establishing a communist government over China.

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