Storm rages over bestselling book on monster Mao
But now the authors find themselves in a bitter battle with some of the world's leading China experts, who have united to unleash a barrage of criticism of the book in general, and, in particular, of its sourcing - the subject of a ten-point reply from the authors in the forthcoming edition of the London Review of Books.
The central thrust of the book is that Mao was a sadistic monster, worse than Hitler or Stalin, and responsible for 70 million deaths. His Marxism was a shallow mask for selfishness.
His reputation as a military leader and champion of the peasants was a sham, argue the book's authors. Portraying Mao as a creature of Stalin, the authors say that, far from moving China forward, he did nothing good, ruthlessly eliminating rivals, starving millions, provoking wars and treating his wives abominably.
By concentrating on the man and his misdeeds, critics say, the book does not explain the context of Mao's rise, his ability to hold power for 26 years and his international impact. 'More needs to be taken into account than a simple personalisation of blame,' one leading historian, Jonathan Spence of Yale, wrote in the New York Review of Books
Yesterday Jung Chang and Jon Halliday told The Observer: 'The academics' views on Mao and Chinese history cited represent received wisdom of which we were well aware while writing our biography of Mao. We came to our own conclusions and interpretations of events through a decade's research.' ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Coming Soon, a Century Late: A Black Film Gem
- The discovery that complicated the history of sex change operations
- NYT identifies the person who exposed Gary Hart's philandering
- Decades After Trinity Nuclear Test in New Mexico, U.S. Studies Cancer Fallout
- Lawrence Of Arabia's Hand-Drawn, WWI Map Is Up for Auction
- Ken Burns is in a race to slow us down
- Ken Burns and the Myth of Theodore Roosevelt
- What Ken Burns Doesn't Understand about the Roosevelts
- A call for historians to do macro history
- Colorado school board, worried about the new AP framework, wants to make sure high school kids are taught patriotic history