SnakBiographies, Memoirs and Autobiographies

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sep 28, 2007, 11:51 am

So, I've taken a stab at starting Mao:the unknown story. I only got about an hour into it - but wow! Is it ever biased and unobjective! The first sentence is something about how ruthless he was and how many people he killed, before even mentioning that he was born (which was the 2nd sentence)! Knowing next to nothing about the time or the person, and not being informed enough to form my own opinions one way or the other, I'm looking for some bit of general background or history on which to ground myself. I'm afraid this is not it. Even with my lack of understanding or reference, this just appears to be completely partial and revisionist history making. It's definitely peaked my curiosity, but that will just mean I'll need to read something else as well. Any thoughts on this book? Any suggestions for more objective background reading on Mao and China during that time? Thanks!

sep 28, 2007, 12:54 pm

I read this book ( Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and I agree with you that it was biased. It was the first (and so far only) bio of Mao I've read, and I bought it because the reviews pointed out that it contained a lot of previously unavailable material (I believe largely material from Soviet archives that has only become publicly available recently).

I felt I learned a lot about Mao and the history of China and that it was reasonably easy to figure out the biased parts. At the same time, I thought I should read other books and so I bought two other books: Mao: A Life by Philip Short and Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence. I confess I haven't read these yet, but I believe them to be more objective. Short seems to have made dictators something of a specialty, and Spence is a noted scholar of China.