Combining meticulous research with the story-telling style of Wild Swans, this biography offers a harrowing portrait of Mao's ruthless accumulation of power through the exercise of terror: his first victims were the peasants, then the intellectuals, and finally, the inner circle of his own advisors. The reader enters the shadowy chambers of Mao's court and eavesdrops on the drama in its hidden recesses. Mao's character and the enormity of his behavior toward his wives, mistresses, and children are unveiled for the first time.
This is an entirely fresh look at Mao in both content and approach. It will astonish historians and the general reader alike.
©2005 Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"Sweeping." (Publishers Weekly)
"Boasts a monumental marshaling of detail and historiographically overturning revelations." (Booklist)
I find this book fascinating, because it is detailed and complete. I am an American and a friend of the late Helen Snow, have lived in China off and on for many years, and am knowledgeable of China's recent history,culture and some of the players. This book answers many questions I have had. The only problem - and it is disturbing - is the narrator. His pronunciation of the Chinese names is so far off the mark that I had to stop now and then to ask myself, "who is he talking about?" Or I would find myself thinking, "Oh, he means ___" This is disturbing. Even though many non-Chinese liseners might not know the difference, it is such a fine presentation, backed by years of painstaking research, the narration is irritating, and falls short in this one area. It seems important to me that the narrator know how to pronounce the names of the recognized leaders of modern China. But this is the only limitation I find- I am listening slowly to get every word! Thanks!
Enjoyable even for someone like me who knew NOTHING about Mao or China prior to diving into this book. The book is lengthy and I have to admit that I did zone out in a couple places but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment or understanding of the story. There's a lot to take in here, but rather than being daunted by the length and detail of the book, I would highly recommend giving it a listen and taking in what you can.
Love audio books! Can use my car time much more wisely.
If anyone ever tells you they think Mao is a person to look up to you might want to think again about that person. Mao was a total despot and one of the worst people to ever live. The things described in this book are frightening. It puts a lot of history into context, namely Korea and Vietnam and how this guy used those wars for only personal gain, he didn't care how many Chinese or others died. Not to be listened to with the kids, but excellent if you want to learn history and thus not be doomed to see it repeated.
There is nothing more criminal in butchering a good book by a lousy reader. The narrator couldn't pronounce a single Chinese word properly, it is so hard to follow sometimes when you have to think twice who the heck he is talking about. Like "Zhou Enlai" was read as "Chao" that's so wrong, it should be more like "Joe" and "Chiang" was read as "Chang" so it gets really confusing. Even as simple as "Jiang qing" was read as "Jiang King" and I won't even start with places. That's another disaster to listen to.
Long and short of it, the book is good, I like the detailed insights and story, but the narration gets into my nerves. Sorry. my rating is Story 4 stars and Narration 0 stars (If I could).
Wild Swan. Book is written by the same author and goes along the same format. I like it.
Learn how to read Chinese pinyin first before recording the book.
Please make sure the book reader knows how to pronounce chinese words before reading the book.
Forget everything you learned in school about Chairman Mao! This book corrects countless misconceptions and reveals the unvarnished truth about one of the most evil leaders in world history.
One cannot say that one enjoys this book. It is a book of the destruction of very many lives, and disrespect of what many readers may hold dear. Reader beware. But it is well written and tells the story of a powerful man in world history.
This is an amazing book. It gives you an entirely new perspective on China. Mao's leadership was horrendous. It is hard to conceive of anyone with less concern for human life and suffering. I came away from the book with the realization that China be a much greater economic threat to the United States today if it had not been victimized by Mao.
The book is excellent and important, but the audio is marred by the absence of the book's several hundred pages of endnotes and references which are desperately needed to understand the quality of the authors' claims. That's the problem with this kind of book in audio. Also, the narrator has no clue how to pronounce Chinese names, so Zhou/Chou Enlai's name is pronounced "Chow," Peng and Deng are similarly butchered, etc. It hurts.
The book is marvelous. The narration is appallingly bad. There are so many mispronunciations of Chinese and Vietnamese personal names that it's hard to believe this narrator has every listened to international news.
The book is so biased against Mao that it raised skepticism in my mind regarding it validity. There is a great deal of unnecessary description of gory punishments. Given that they happened more than 40 years ago, it is unlikely that the authors actually validated them. They appeared to overstate them to sell more copies of the book. That aside, Robertson Dean did an excellent job of narration, as he always does.
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