Thursday, June 16, 2005
Book Review: Mao: The Unknown Story
I have just finished Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang. This book reveals the true hidden nature of Chairman Mao and his China and the evil he is represented in China's past history. So far masks has been torn down by the author and her co-author, husband Jon Halliday.
To many, Mao was different from Stalin. He was different from Hitler. He was not a monster. He was the acceptable face of youthful defiance against authority. You can still see posters of Mao draping many students accomodations next to that of the iconic Che.
The books demolished many of the Mao myths such as the Long March, which the authors claimed, was a total sham. Mao did not lead the march. His policy of inciting terror into the Chinese population is also told here. Low moral from his own troops lead to dissent and schemes to rid of him.
Contrary to Marxist theory, Mao treated himself like a semi-deity, lavished himself in luxury and imperialist power. His communist peers saw through him but Mao was able to act on them. Many were rounded up, locked up and left to die. The story of Zhao Enlai, a slave so loyal to Mao, that he was not allowed cancer treatement and died, was sad. Mao like his idol Stalin, was capable to murder his fellow people in order to gain and stay in power. His second wife was left behind to be killed by Nationalists.
The insanity of Mao led to the death of millions of Chinese. Chosen successors were rid of because they lack his viciousness. Falling out with Moscow he arranged for Richard Nixon to visit China to no effect. The progressive Deng Xiaoping was installed then rid off as he started countering some of Mao's policies such as the Great Leap Forward.
All this if true makes the whole episode with Japan's unaccountability to its own World War II horror all the more absurd. China is rising as an economic power, but many of its own citizens are unaware how their modern country was built on the death of some 70 million people.
The book is told in the point of view of Jung Chang so there are elements of biased you wouldn't get from historical books. She conveys her anger to an extent you will notice her lack of objectivity. Mao: The Unknown Story is likely to be banned in China like Juan Chang's previous book Wild Swans.
Published by Jonathan Cape, £25