Currently reading an biography of Mao by Jung Chang.  I remember when it first came out in 2005.  I remember thinking that the cover and title seemed a bit sensationalist, but then again, there’s no other way to justly tell the biography of Mao without hyperbole – unexaggerated hyperbole at that.  The man was directly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese people – apparently still China’s inexhaustible resource.  And the party line to this day is still “Mao was 70% right, 30% wrong.”

Mao’s indisputable monstrosity aside, the authors of the book seem to have a personal vendetta against the regime that makes me not trust its sources.  The tone felt a bit too  Michael Moore-ish, so to speak.  The London Review of Books has a pretty thorough review of the book that points out its weaknesses in detail.

Chinese history is daunting because there’s so much information that is still suppressed.  Transparency, or at least the right to demand it, is such a precious thing.

In any case, this book has created a visceral feeling of repulsion in me for this man – yet also a strange fascination.  We’re transfixed by monsters, aren’t we?  Yet disgusted at the same time.  I really want to read a history of Soviet Russia and Stalin now.


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