Man, If you didn't already dislike Mao, you certainly will after hearing what an a-hole he was for 30 straight hours. I did listen to the entire thing. If an absolutely thorough attack on Mao is was you're looking for, this is it.
I believe, though I don't have time to prove, that there is significant single-source material in the book. That is, the authors go out of their ways to report some extremely negative nugget about Mao with little to show in the way of proof. And what I was left asking was why stretch? There was ample, incontrovertible evidence he was a total jerk. Maybe leave some of that out and cut it down to 15 hours. Or find a way to include something positive someone did in response to Mao, some heroic action, some figure who stood in opposition to his fascism. This history is unrelentingly negative. It's very depressing.
Yes. Partly because I believe that it's a story that needed to be told and partly because I knew so little about China and it's history.
This is a biography - so, you could say that my favorite character is Mao, but not in a good way.
I did enjoy Robertson Dean's performance in spite of the criticism of his poor Chinese accent. Since I know very little Chinese, his Chinese pronunciation, or lack of, did not bother me. But, I can imagine that it could bother a Chinese speaker. It's a very difficult language and really enjoyed the audible delivery. Also, I had just finished The Swans, a book I highly recommend, either before or after this one and the tone of the reading felt right, although the narrator, a woman, for the The Swans did have better Chinese pronunciation.
There were many moments, but definitely descriptions of what the people had to endure, was quite shocking. There was also so much to take in.
I think, at the end of the reading, I had questions about China's history and wanted to know more about how someone like Mao was able to come to power and stay in power for so long. I am listening to the Fall and Rise of China in the course series, which is beginning to answer some questions about the roots of Chinese culture and hope to continue to read more. Jung Chang is a wonderful writer and I plan to read more of her books.
I love Robertson Dean's reading. I plan to listen to the entire 50 hour "Powerbroker" recording again some time. He has excellent pacing and a gorgeous voice that I could listen to (literally) for days. BUT the producers of this audiobook should have given him at least a cursory overview of Chinese pronunciation. It made this book extremely difficult to listen to, not least because the pronunciation of Chinese names and words have different meanings due to their varied tonal pronunciation.
Chang's rendition of Mao is rather flat. Having read several biographies of Mao, I thought this one had some new things to offer, but overall lacked the depth and personality that you can expect from a great biography. Not much is known about Mao's early life, but the authors could have done more investigative work to build out his early life and give some context for the reasons he made the major choices that shaped his life. In biography, I want more than a journalistic list of chronological events. I want to know the author's take on why the person might have behaved in such and such a way; something juicy that gets into the phychology of the person. I want to come away feeling that I know the subject. That's not the case with this book.
Like I said I love Robertson Dean, but for this I would have picked any narrator who has command of Chinese pronunciation.
Astonishing tale of a greatest tragedy in human history consciously caused just by one man, a psychopath, Mao. Very enlightening peace of work read by an amazing narrator. Must read for anyone interested in history.
Definitely one of few books that I want to read more than once.
For someone who knows nothing about Chinese history this is a wonderful book. It is fascinating to see behind the scenes what happened and help me find China to be the country it is today. Clearly Mao was an evil and power hungry individual as this book portrays. The author though seems to have a personal vendetta to vilify Mao Zedong rather than portraying the history with objectivity. I'm also not too sure whether there is enough information to verify certain parts of this history but the author seems to use what makes most logical sense without discussing that there is room for other ways in which the history could have occurred.
Yes, well researched and lots of information.
A very detailed history. The most frustrating part is the author's continual minimizing of any of Mao's achievements. Mao's history is undeniably disgusting in how he treated his own people, there is no real need to put everything he does in the least flattering light, it takes away from the credibility.
Yes, very informative.
No, The performance was weak with very poor and confusing pronunciation of the Chinese names. The account that is afforded the reader appears to be highly biased be the authors tragic personal experience. The many, highly serious flaws in Mao and his policies is well documented in the West but, Jung does not deliver an objective account in these matters the way, for example, a Barbara Tuchman could. This writing is to an historical account what Fox News is to journalism. It is designed more to excite and entertain for commercial gain than to actually explain the facts.
Objectivity is difficult to maintain if one has been personally and profoundly impacted by the subject. In this case, however, it would appear that objectivity was never an intended outcome and so the book comes closer to historical fiction than revelation. This is unfortunate because there appears to be a good deal of research that went into its construction.
Learn how to pronounce Chinese proper nouns.
The highly biased tone of this book left me curious for a motive. I searched the web for a history of Jung's life which is where I (believe I) found a possible explanation for the slanted interpretation she delivers.