Covell Meyskens uses his blog to show what life was like under Mao. (Interview)

Historians in the News
tags: China, Mao



Covell Meyskens is a historian of modern China at the Naval Postgraduate School, an educational institution in California mainly aimed at active-duty military officers. He is working on a book about the Third Front, the gargantuan defense project China began in 1964 to build an industrial base in its interior, far from the more vulnerable coastal region. He also runs the photo blog “Everyday Life in Mao’s China,” a website with more than 5,000 photos and paintings depicting life in China during the first decades of Communist rule.

In an interview, Professor Meyskens discussed his blog, stereotyped views of the Maoist era and whether Mao Zedong’s rule really was totalitarian.

What interested you in the Third Front?

I wanted to work on Cold War China and industrial development. The Third Front was Maoist China’s largest industrial project, bigger than the two nearest competitors — the First Five-Year Plan and Great Leap Forward — combined. The C.C.P. [Chinese Communist Party] invested over 200 billion renminbi [$30 billion] in it, and yet there is not one book that analyzes it, except for my upcoming monograph. ...




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