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Mao: The Unknown Story (2005)

by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,468464,521 (3.75)1 / 70
Based on a decade of research and on interviews with many of Mao's close circle in China who have never talked before--and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him--this is the most authoritative life of Mao ever written. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed the Japanese occupation; and he schemed, poisoned and blackmailed to get his way. After he conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. He caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao's rule--in peacetime. This entirely fresh look at Mao will astonish historians and the general reader alike.--From publisher description.… (more)
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English (39)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Read many years ago, just adding it now.
  pvoberstein | Dec 14, 2020 |
I didn't get very far with this one, but that's a fault of mine, not the book. I did get far enough to start to get a picture of just how much of a *freak* this guy was! It's really scary how someone like that could get into a position of such power!
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
This biography definitely had a point of view about its subject, and any information presented was filtered through that point of view. It often felt like this book was prepared as an incredibly detailed rebuttal to an argument that Mao wasn't a tryannical dictator...which isn't an argument I've ever heard made seriously. Ultimately, I think the book suffered from having such a strong POV and could have made its point just as effectively by presenting an accurate outline of Mao's actions and letting the reader draw the conclusion about his character. ( )
  Jthierer | Feb 20, 2018 |
Rather dry but a very detailed reporting on Mao, the butcher of China. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
It was difficult for me to rate this book. On the one hand it's obviously the definitive biography of Mao; on the other it's a punishing, tedious read. My guess is that very few people needed to be convinced that Mao is one of history's worst villains (anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Cultural Revolution understands the depth of his evil), but Jung Chang enumerates his crimes in such exhausting detail that Mao: The Unknown Story becomes, in places, flat-out unreadable. The author's bias is so overt that she captions a photo of Mao and his henchman Lin Biao thusly: "Note Mao's black teeth, which he rarely brushed. He did not have a bath or a shower throughout his twenty-seven-year reign." When the text is constantly bogged down with these kinds of observations (and it is), I feel that I'm no longer reading a biography but a six-hundred-page tirade. Bring every ounce of your patience to this one. ( )
1 vote Jonathan_M | Mar 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
This huge biography of the 20th-century political giant is based on prodigious research and contains fascinating new material. Jung Chang, who is of Chinese origin, and Jon Halliday, her British husband, offer plenty of passion and detail in their unremittingly negative but engrossing portrait of Mao Tse-Tung. Overall the book is less the "unknown story" promised by the subtitle than a known story distilled into a polemic.
 

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Jung Changprimary authorall editionscalculated
Halliday, Jonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Based on a decade of research and on interviews with many of Mao's close circle in China who have never talked before--and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him--this is the most authoritative life of Mao ever written. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed the Japanese occupation; and he schemed, poisoned and blackmailed to get his way. After he conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. He caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao's rule--in peacetime. This entirely fresh look at Mao will astonish historians and the general reader alike.--From publisher description.

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Book description
The most authoritative life of the Chinese leader every written, Mao: The Unknown Story is based on a decade of research, and on interviews with many of Mao’s close circle in China who have never talked before — and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intimate and intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed Japanese occupation of much of China; and he schemed, poisoned, and blackmailed to get his way. After Mao conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. In chasing this dream he caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao’s rule — in peacetime.
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