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The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Li…
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The Private Life of Chairman Mao (1994)

by Li Zhi-Sui

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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 |
Early Summer 1975. Chairman Mao is gravely ill, beginning the long slow descent towards death. Bedridden, he has cataracts, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) with paralysis on his ride side, coronary and pulmonary heart disease, an infection in the lower half of both lungs, with three bulla in the left one, bedsores on his left hip, anoxia, a slight fever and a severe cough. He has had two heart attacks and has poor kidney function. He is addicted to barbiturates and suffers from chronic and acute insomnia. He is 82. He also hasn’t washed for several decades, and has never brushed his teeth, which are covered in a green plaque. God alone knows the state of his genitals.

Mao’s medical team consists of 24 nurses and 15 doctors, headed by Dr Li, Mao’s personal physician for 21 years. Although a member of Mao’s inner court, and one of Mao’s most trusted intimates, living a pampered life within the confines of Mao’s own forbidden city, the government compound Zhongnanhai, Dr Li’s position is distinctly unenviable. His job, to keep Mao alive for ever. Failure is a given, but the possible consequences of that failure range from arrest, solitary confinement, banishment to a ‘Reform Through Labour’ camp, torture, and/or death. As well as dealing with Mao’s impossible health problems, he also has to deal with Mao’s mistress and Mao’s wife. He also has to deal with the various factions of the politburo, all of whom are nervously trying to pass the eventual blame for Mao’s death onto someone else’s shoulders, and politicking secretly over the succession...

Read the full review on The Lectern:

http://thelectern.blogspot.com/2007/10/private-life-of-chairman-mao-dr-li.html ( )
4 vote tomcatMurr | Oct 15, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679764437, Paperback)

From 1954 until Mao Zedong's death 22 years later. Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler's personal physician. For most of these years, Mao was in excellent health; 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 this book, Dr. Li vividly reconstructs his extraordinary time with Chairman Mao. of illustrations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:18 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

For twenty-two years, Dr. Zhisui Li was Chairman Mao's personal physician, confidant and constant companion. His recollections take us into the very heart of the Chinese dictator's private world. From 1954 to 1976, Dr. Li was constantly at Mao Zedong's side, privy to his most intimate thoughts and secrets, both personal and political.… (more)

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