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The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Zhisui…

The Private Life of Chairman Mao (1994)

by Zhisui Li, Anne F. Thurston (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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500633,935 (3.85)9
From 1954 until Mao Zedong's death twenty-two years later, Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler's personal physician, which put him in almost daily -- and increasingly intimate -- contact with Mao and his inner circle. For most of these years, Mao's health was excellent; thus he and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Dr. Li recorded many of these conversations in his diaries as well as in his memory. In The Private Life of Chairman Mao, he reconstructs his extraordinary experiences. Dr. Li clarifies numerous long-standing puzzles, such as the true nature of Mao's feelings toward the United States and the Soviet Union. He describes Mao's deliberate rudeness toward Khrushchev when the Soviet leader paid his secret visit to Beijing in 1958, and we learn here, for the first time, how Mao came to invite the American table tennis team to China, a decision that led to Nixon's historic visit a few months later. We also learn why Mao took the disastrous Great Leap Forward, which resulted in the worst famine in recorded history, and his equally strange reason for risking war with the United States by shelling the Taiwanese islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Dr. Li supplies surprising portraits of Zhou Enlai and many other top leaders. He describes Mao's relationship with his wife, and gives us insight into the sexual politics of Mao's court. Readers will find here a full account of Mao's sex life, and of such personal details as his peculiar sleeping arrangements and his dependency on barbiturates. We witness Mao's bizarre death and the even stranger events that followed it. Dr. Li tells of Mao's remarkable gift for intimacy, as well as of his indifference to the suffering and deaths of millions of his fellow Chinese, including old comrades.… (more)
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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Dr. Li Zhisui recounts his personal interactions with Chairman Mao throughout his years as Mao's personal doctor. This account is not only captivating, but gives insight into the personality and events surrounding Mao. ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Apr 3, 2017 |
I read this book side by side with the other Mao Biography of Jung Chang. Both make exceptional reading. ( )
  fak119 | Feb 5, 2015 |
Thirty-something years after Chairman Mao's death, his personal physician breaks doctor-patient confidentiality to tell us what we mostly suspected to begin with: that Mao was crazy six ways from Sunday. The text is interesting, of course, and has historical value, coming from an original source, but lacks pizazz. At times, it reads like a laundry list of the same old cliche stuff that everybody does when they become an isolated, untouchable, megalomaniacal dictator of China:
1) Swim in the Yalu River.

2) Sleep around with starlets from "The Peoples' Cultural Dance Troupe".

3) Sleep around with little boys from "The Peoples' Cultural Dance Troupe".

4) Force your enemies to break rocks in a quarry so you can build an insanely large hydroelectric powerplant.

5) Never brush your teeth.

6) Intimidate your doctors to make sure they take good care of you.

7) Force your FRIENDS to break rocks in a quarry so you can build an
insanely large hydroelectric powerplant. (how embarrassing... what a pseudo-Soviet poser)

8) Sit around ruminating about all the people who want to kill you.

9) Starve everybody.

10) Impress fellow dictators with your insanely large hydroelectric powerplant. (Kim Il Sung just about shit a brick!)
I would have liked this book better if Li Zhi-Sui would have shared with us a little more of how all this crazyness made him feel. It seems clear he didn't like Mao too much, or he wouldn't have written all this, but he's too reserved, like he's giving a deposition rather than telling his personal story.

( )
1 vote BirdBrian | Apr 4, 2013 |
Fascinating behind the scenes account by Mao's personal physician has the ring of truth to it. The amazing thing when reading about Mao is always how anyone as basically repulsive as he was could hold such a sway over people. ( )
  datrappert | Jul 15, 2010 |
Gives a very good sense of the way that the "court" read the signs of Mao's preference, and the way that power flowed from conveying a sense of fear. ( )
  wandering_star | Jan 31, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zhisui Liprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thurston, Anne F.Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Chao, Tai HungTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hung-chao, TaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nathan, Andrew J.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tai, Hung-chaoTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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