Mao: The Untold Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday
Reviewed by Simon Sebag Montefiore
A few choice excerpts:
For generations, Mao Tse-tung was the acceptable, even fashionable face of communist tyranny....
Ever since the Soviet archives started to reveal the intimate story of Stalin’s tyranny, people have been tempted to compare Hitler and Stalin. Who killed more people? Who was more depraved...? Mao is never mentioned — but he will be now.
Mao: The Untold Story exposes its subject as probably the most disgusting of the bloody troika of 20th-century tyrant-messiahs, in terms of character, deeds — and number of victims. This study, by Jung Chang, the author of Wild Swans, and her husband, the historian Jon Halliday, is a triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research. This is the first intimate, political biography of the greatest monster of them all — the Red Emperor of China. Using witnesses in China, and new, secret Chinese archives, the authors of this magisterial and damning book estimate that Mao was responsible for 70m deaths.
Nikita Khrushchev said: “I look at Mao, I see Stalin, a perfect copy.” Their attitudes, even their style of dress, their refusal to earn money or work on anything except their own power, their obsessional reading of imperial history, poetry writing, swaggering disdain for human life, their worship of violence, their loathing of peasants, their superpower ambitions, their jealousies, their self-belief, secrecy and paranoia, their loathing of their fathers, respect for their mothers and their destruction of their own wives and children were almost identical. The authors point out two key differences: they believe that Mao was never a Marxist, simply an opportunistic egomaniac. They record his frenzied womanising: Stalin was far less of a sensualist.
There's much more. Read the review here [partial -- subscription required for full text, but still worth reading in partial form].
Parenthetically, I would note that one the few practitioners of Maoist thought still in power today is Mad Bobby Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe, whose recent deeds I have been chronicling below.