The Washington Post
Mao: The Unknown Storyby Jung Chang, Jon Halliday
The most authoritative life of the Chinese leader every written, Mao: The Unknown Story is based on a decade of research, and on interviews with many of Mao’s close circle in China who have never talked before — and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth/i>
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The most authoritative life of the Chinese leader every written, Mao: The Unknown Story is based on a decade of research, and on interviews with many of Mao’s close circle in China who have never talked before — and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intimate and intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed Japanese occupation of much of China; and he schemed, poisoned, and blackmailed to get his way. After Mao conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. In chasing this dream he caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao’s rule — in peacetime.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
“A magisterial work. . . . This magnificent biography methodically demolishes every pillar of Mao’s claim to sympathy or legitimacy. . . . A triumph.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Chilling. . . . Impressive. . . . An extremely compelling portrait of Mao that will still shock many.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“An important book in ways not envisaged. . . . A work of unanswerable authority.” –The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“The most complete and assiduously researched biography of its subject yet published. . . . No earlier work comes close to matching the density of detail here. . . . The authors have performed brilliant historical detective work.” –The Atlantic Monthly
"Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life…a stupendous work and one hopes that it will be brought before the Chinese people, who still claim to venerate the man and who have yet to come to terms with their own history…"-Michael Yahuda, The Guardian
"Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have not, in the whole of their narrative, a good word to say about Mao. In a normal biography, such an unequivocal denunciation would be both suspect and tedious. But the clear scholarship, and careful notes, of The Unknown Story provoke another reaction. Mao Tse-Tung's evil, undoubted and well-documented, is unequalled throughout modern history."-Roy Hattersley, The Observer
"Ever since the spectacular success of Chang's Wild Swans we have waited impatiently for her to complete with her husband this monumental study of China's most notorious modern leader. The expectation has been that she would rewrite modern Chinese history. The wait has been worthwhile and the expectation justified. This is a bombshell of a book."-Chris Patten, last British governor of Hong Kong, in The Times
"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."
-Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Sunday Times
"Jung Chang and Jon Halliday enter a savage indictment drawing on a host of sources, including important Soviet ones, to blow away the miasma of deceit and ignorance which still shrouds Mao's life from many Western eyes...Jung Chang delivers a cry of anguish on behalf of all of those in her native land who, to this day, are still not free to speak of these things."-Max Hastings, The Sunday Telegraph
"Demonstrating the same pitilessness that they judge to be Mao's most formidable weapon, they unstitch the myths that sustained him in power for forty years and that continue to underpin China's regime…I suspect that when China comes to terms with its past this book will have played a role."-Nicolas Shakespeare, Telegraph
"The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in its horror, is the most powerful, compelling, and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will." -George Walden, Daily Mail
"decisive biography…they have investigated every aspect of his personal life and career, peeling back the layers of lies, myths, and what we used to think of as facts…what Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, everything that has gone before."-Jonathan Mirsky, The Independent, Saturday
"written with the same deft hand that enlivened Ms. Chang's 1991 memoir, 'Wild Swans'…"-The Economist
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On the Cusp from Ancient to Modern
(1893–1911 H age 1–17)
Mao tse-tung, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one-quarter of the world’s population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader. He was born into a peasant family in a valley called Shaoshan, in the province of Hunan, in the heartland of China. The date was 26 December 1893. His ancestors had lived in the valley for five hundred years.
This was a world of ancient beauty, a temperate, humid region whose misty, undulating hills had been populated ever since the Neolithic age. Buddhist temples dating from the Tang dynasty (ad 618–906), when Buddhism first came here, were still in use. Forests where nearly 300 species of trees grew, including maples, camphor, metasequoia and the rare ginkgo, covered the area and sheltered the tigers, leopards and boar that still roamed the hills. (The last tiger was killed in 1957.) These hills, with neither roads nor navigable rivers, detached the village from the world at large. Even as late as the early twentieth century an event as momentous as the death of the emperor in 1908 did not percolate this far, and Mao found out only two years afterwards when he left Shaoshan.
The valley of Shaoshan measures about 5 by 3.5 km. The 600-odd families who lived there grew rice, tea and bamboo, harnessing buffalo to plough the rice paddies. Daily life revolved round these age-old activities. Mao’s father, Yi-chang, was born in 1870. At the age of ten he was engaged to a girl of thirteen from a village about 10 kilometres away, beyond a pass called Tiger Resting Pass, where tigers used to sun themselves. This short distance was long enough in those years for the two villages to speak dialects that were almost mutually unintelligible. Being merely a girl, Mao’s mother did not receive a name; as the seventh girl born in the Wen clan, she was just Seventh Sister Wen. In accordance with centuries of custom, her feet had been crushed and bound to produce the so-called three-inch golden lilies that epitomised beauty at the time.
Her engagement to Mao’s father followed time-honoured customs. It was arranged by their parents and was based on a practical consideration: the tomb of one of her grandfathers was in Shaoshan, and it had to be tended regularly with elaborate rituals, so having a relative there would prove useful. Seventh Sister Wen moved in with the Maos upon betrothal, and was married at the age of eighteen, in 1885, when Yi-chang was fifteen.
Shortly after the wedding, Yi-chang went off to be a soldier to earn money to pay off family debts, which he was able to do after several years. Chinese peasants were not serfs but free farmers, and joining the army for purely financial reasons was an established practice. Luckily he was not involved in any wars; instead he caught a glimpse of the world and picked up some business ideas. Unlike most of the villagers, Yi-chang could read and write, well enough to keep accounts. After his return, he raised pigs, and processed grain into top-quality rice to sell at a nearby market town. He bought back the land his father had pawned, then bought more land, and became one of the richest men in the village.
Though relatively well off, Yi-chang remained extremely hard- working and thrifty all his life. The family house consisted of half a dozen rooms, which occupied one wing of a large thatched property. Eventually Yi-chang replaced the thatch with tiles, a major improvement, but left the mud floor and mud walls. The windows had no glass—still a rare luxury—and were just square openings with wooden bars, blocked off at night by wooden boards (the temperature hardly ever fell below freezing). The furniture was simple: wooden beds, bare wooden tables and benches. It was in one of these rather spartan rooms, under a pale blue homespun cotton quilt, inside a blue mosquito net, that Mao was born.
Mao was the third son, but the first to survive beyond infancy. His Buddhist mother became even more devout to encourage Buddha to protect him. Mao was given the two-part name Tse-tung. Tse, which means “to shine on,” was the name given to all his generation, as preordained when the clan chronicle was first written in the eighteenth century; tung means “the East.” So his full given name meant “to shine on the East.” When two more boys were born, in 1896 and 1905, they were given the names Tse-min (min means “the people”) and Tse-t’an (tan possibly referred to the local region, Xiangtan).
These names reflected the inveterate aspiration of Chinese peasants for their sons to do well—and the expectation that they could. High positions were open to all through education, which for centuries meant studying Confucian classics. Excellence would enable young men of any background to pass imperial examinations and become mandarins—all the way up to becoming prime minister. Officialdom was the definition of achievement, and the names given to Mao and his brothers expressed the hopes placed on them.
But a grand name was also onerous and potentially tempted fate, so most children were given a pet name that was either lowly or tough, or both. Mao’s was “the Boy of Stone”—Shisan yazi. For this second “baptism” his mother took him to a rock about eight feet high, which was reputed to be enchanted, as there was a spring underneath. After Mao performed obeisance and kowtows, he was considered adopted by the rock. Mao was very fond of this name, and continued to use it as an adult. In 1959, when he returned to Shaoshan and met the villagers for the first—and only—time as supreme leader of China, he began the dinner for them with a quip: “So everyone is here, except my Stone Mother. Shall we wait for her?”
Mao loved his real mother, with an intensity he showed towards no one else. She was a gentle and tolerant person, who, as he remembered, never raised her voice to him. From her came his full face, sensual lips, and a calm self-possession in the eyes. Mao would talk about his mother with emotion all his life. It was in her footsteps that he became a Buddhist as a child. Years later he told his staff: “I worshipped my mother . . . Wherever my mother went, I would follow . . . going to temple fairs, burning incense and paper money, doing obeisance to Buddha . . . Because my mother believed in Buddha, so did I.” But he gave up Buddhism in his mid-teens.
Mao had a carefree childhood. Until he was eight he lived with his mother’s family, the Wens, in their village, as his mother preferred to live with her own family. There his maternal grandmother doted on him. His two uncles and their wives treated him like their own son, and one of them became his Adopted Father, the Chinese equivalent to godfather. Mao did a little light farm work, gathering fodder for pigs and taking the buffaloes out for a stroll in the tea-oil camellia groves by a pond shaded by banana leaves. In later years he would reminisce with fondness about this idyllic time. He started learning to read, while his aunts spun and sewed under an oil lamp.
Mao only came back to live in Shaoshan in spring 1902, at the age of eight, to receive an education, which took the form of study in a tutor’s home. Confucian classics, which made up most of the curriculum, were beyond the understanding of children and had to be learnt by heart. Mao was blessed with an exceptional memory, and did well. His fellow pupils remembered a diligent boy who managed not only to recite but also to write by rote these difficult texts. He also gained a foundation in Chinese language and history, and began to learn to write good prose, calligraphy and poetry, as writing poems was an essential part of Confucian education. Reading became a passion. Peasants generally turned in at sunset, to save on oil for lamps, but Mao would read deep into the night, with an oil lamp standing on a bench outside his mosquito net. Years later, when he was supreme ruler of China, half of his huge bed would be piled a foot high with Chinese classics, and he littered his speeches and writings with historical references. But his poems lost flair.
Mao clashed frequently with his tutors. He ran away from his first school at the age of ten, claiming that the teacher was a martinet. He was expelled from, or was “asked to leave,” at least three schools for being headstrong and disobedient. His mother indulged him but his father was not pleased, and Mao’s hopping from tutor to tutor was just one source of tension between father and son. Yi-chang paid for Mao’s education, hoping that his son could at least help keep the family accounts, but Mao disliked the task. All his life, he was vague about figures, and hopeless at economics. Nor did he take kindly to hard physical labour. He shunned it as soon as his peasant days were over.
Yi-chang could not stand Mao being idle. Having spent every minute of his waking hours working, he expected his son to do the same, and would strike him when he did not comply. Mao hated his father. In 1968, when he was taking revenge on his political foes on a vast scale, he told their tormentors that he would have liked his father to be treated just as brutally: “My father was bad. If he were alive today, he should be ‘jet-planed.’ ” This was an agonising position where the subject’s arms were wrenched behind his back and his head forced down.
Mao was not a mere victim of his father. He fought back, and was often the victor. He would tell his father that the father, being older, should do more manual labour than he, the younger—which was an unthinkably insolent argument by Chinese standards. One day, according to Mao, father and son had a row in front of guests. “My father scolded me before them, calling me lazy and useless. This infuriated me. I called him names and left the house . . . My father . . . pursued me, cursing as well as commanding me to come back. I reached the edge of a pond and threatened to jump in if he came any nearer . . . My father backed down.” Once, as Mao was retelling the story, he laughed and added an observation: “Old men like him didn’t want to lose their sons. This is their weakness. I attacked at their weak point, and I won!”
Money was the only weapon Mao’s father possessed. After Mao was expelled by tutor no. 4, in 1907, his father stopped paying his son’s tuition fees and the thirteen-year-old boy had to become a full-time peasant. But he soon found a way to get himself out of farm work and back into the world of books. Yi-chang was keen for his son to get married, so that he would be tied down and behave responsibly. His niece was at just the right age for a wife, four years older than Mao, who agreed to his father’s plan and resumed schooling after the marriage.
The marriage took place in 1908, when Mao was fourteen and his bride eighteen. Her family name was Luo. She herself had no proper name, and was just called “Woman Luo.” The only time Mao is known to have mentioned her was to the American journalist Edgar Snow in 1936, when Mao was strikingly dismissive, exaggerating the difference in their ages: “When I was 14, my parents married me to a girl of 20. But I never lived with her . . . I do not consider her my wife . . . and have given little thought to her.” He gave no hint that she was not still alive; in fact, Woman Luo had died in 1910, just over a year into their marriage.
Mao’s early marriage turned him into a fierce opponent of arranged marriages. Nine years later he wrote a seething article against the practice: “In families in the West, parents acknowledge the free will of their children. But in China, orders from the parents are not at all compatible with the will of the children . . . This is a kind of ‘indirect rape.’ Chinese parents are all the time indirectly raping their children . . .”
As soon as his wife died, the sixteen-year-old widower demanded to leave Shaoshan. His father wanted to apprentice him to a rice store in the county town, but Mao had set his eye on a modern school about 25 kilometres away. He had learned that the imperial examinations had been abolished. Instead there were modern schools now, teaching subjects like science, world history and geography, and foreign languages. It was these schools that would open the door out of a peasant’s life for many like him.
From the Hardcover edition.
What People are saying about this
--Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, in The Times (London)
"Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life...a stupendous work and one hopes that it will be brought before the Chinese people, who still claim to venerate the man and who have yet to come to terms with their own history..."
-Michael Yahuda, The Guardian
"Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have not, in the whole of their narrative, a good word to say about Mao. In a normal biography, such an unequivocal denunciation would be both suspect and tedious. But the clear scholarship, and careful notes, of The Unknown Story provoke another reaction. Mao Tse-Tung's evil, undoubted and well-documented, is unequalled throughout modern history."
-Roy Hattersley, The Observer
"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."
-Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Sunday Times
"Jung Chang and Jon Halliday enter a savage indictment drawing on a host of sources, including important Soviet ones, to blow away the miasma of deceit and ignorance which still shrouds Mao's life from many Western eyes...Jung Chang delivers a cry of anguish on behalf of all of those in her native land who, to this day, are still not free to speak of these things."
-Max Hastings, The Sunday Telegraph
"Demonstrating the same pitilessness that they judge to be Mao's most formidable weapon, they unstitch the myths that sustained him in power for forty years and that continue to underpin China's regime--I suspect that when China comes to terms with its past this book will have played a role."
-Nicolas Shakespeare, Telegraph
"The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in its horror, is the most powerful, compelling, and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will."
-George Walden, Daily Mail
"decisive biography--they have investigated every aspect of his personal life and career, peeling back the layers of lies, myths, and what we used to think of as facts--what Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, everything that has gone before."
-Jonathan Mirsky, The Independent, Saturday
"written with the same deft hand that enlivened Ms. Chang's 1991 memoir, 'Wild Swans'"
Meet the Author
Jung Chang was born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China, in 1952. She was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen and then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician before becoming an English-language student and, later, an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1982, the first person from the People’s Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British university. Her award-winning book, Wild Swans, was published in 1991.
Jon Halliday is a former Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, University of London. He has written or edited eight previous books.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Certainly detailed. And yet at times feels oddly unsupported or poorly explained. Case in point: the author cites Mao going for a swim as a powerful and threatening message to the top echelon of the party. No clue why this causes so much angst. It shows off his physical vigor, but this is a guy who has other people do his dirty work, not someone who personally strangles his foes. Nor does it seem to make sense that Mao is both portrayed as completely in command at one moment and then at others seems to be in danger from cronies who several pages earlier were at his total mercy. More generally it feels like the author could have made the case that Mao was a.) obsessed with power, b.) totally ruthless, c.) didn't care a bit for his people, d.) and liked sex in a lot less than 600 pages. Or maybe a better way to say it is after reading 600 pages I should have a better picture of how politics worked under Mao and why a nation and it's top leaders stuck by such a despicable and misguided person. Or how the apparently mass psychosis of the Cultural Revolution could come about. I am left feeling like I need to read another, more penetrating book to get the answers to questions this one opened up.
Well worth the hours I put into it! The depth of research and the excellent writing create the framework for a fascinating read. The content provides endless topics for current conversation and reflection. So many facets to the story. Considering all this book offers, I can easily see how it may take generations to recover from the horrors and destruction of Mao.
A must read for all adults, particularly in light of the lack of knowledge of 20th century history prevalent in the US. One cannot evaluate current events without an understanding of the past. This book contradicts years of Chinese propaganda and sets the record straight on the origins of Mao and Communist China. The myths of the Long March and the heartless trade of foodstuffs (and consequently millions of Chinese lives) for Russian industrial, military, and nuclear plans, equipment, and hardware is shocking. This record underscores both the value of a free press as well as the human proclivity to strive to be successful in the system of government at hand. Shocking and disgusting. The Chinese have come along way from Mao. Their achievements should be welcomed and further progress encouraged.
Very Well researched. Will make you see Mao and Chinese history in a totally different light. Not presented in very subjective tone. Authors seem to have a personal vendetta against Mao and set to portray him as the Devil Incarnate. Let the concrete details speak for themselves, should have cut back on the commentaries and let readers draw their own conclusions.
Chang and Halliday¿s Mao, Unknown Story provided a brand new version and perspective of Chairman Mao. It is the first time to portray Chairman Mao as a bloody mass-murderer. In their book, Chairman Mao was a large-scale murderer during a Chinese peace era. Nearly 80 million people were dead by his Utopian idealism: that was an unbelievable number. It is four times the number of deaths of the Soviets in the war between the Soviet Union and Germany. He used drastic violence to suppress people who he believed stood in his way for industrializing China. He ignored the death of 30 million people during the starvation period of the Great Famine, which was caused by his foolish ¿Great Leap Forward¿ for overtaking the British and catching up to the Americans. After the Great Famine, his lunatic behavior reached new heights. He launched the culture revolution, which was completely insane. He became a maniac. Under his direction, the violence was propelled to its bloodiest high tide. The horror broke historic records. Elementary school students unbelievably beat their teachers to death. The death toll was continuing to pile up until the day he died. From Mao, Unknown Story, the figure of Chairman Mao was drawn as a vicious monster and mass-murderer. No wonder, horrible bloody killings described in Mao, Unknown Story truly happened in China from 1949, when Chairman Mao took over China, to 1976 when Chairman Mao died. Chairman Mao did everything so lunatic, and insane. From the catastrophe which he brought to China, he deserves to be considered a bloodthirsty monster and a bloody mass murderer. Overall, the book is good and correct. Even though the book is good and correct, it cannot compare with Dr. Zhisui Li¿s The Private Life of Chairman Mao in deeply and lively describing of Chairman Mao. No less than Dr. Andrew Nathan pointed out, all of biographic writers have a limitation in deeply and lively describing their objects. Because they have never served their objects, they have no chance to observe them closely. Also they have done a lot of research, but the inherent defect is that they don¿t really know their objects¿ personality and psychology. They don¿t know their objects¿ courtyard operations their objects¿ retainers, and the relationship between their objects, their objects¿ retainers and the government officials. Dr. Zhisui Li¿s The Private Life of Chairman Mao did not portray Chairman Mao as a bloodthirsty monster and a bloody mass murderer instead of that, it focused on details of Chairman Mao¿s personality, psychology and his courtyard operation. Owing to Dr. Zhisui Li¿s position, it made him as so called: inside man. He could know a lot of Chairman Mao¿s important information that an outsider could not know. Even Chairman Mao¿s former public health minister told Dr. Li to come see him anytime if Dr. Li wanted to tell him about any of Chairman Mao¿s activities. In the same way, Chairman Mao¿s former chief commanding officer of guards also was available to Dr. Li with no appointment. The deepest impression for me about Dr. Li¿s book is the Chairman Mao¿s courtyard and his retainers. Chairman Mao¿s medical doctor, chief commanding officer of guards and secretaries comprised his retainers. They were called ¿Group One¿. Chairman Mao¿s retainers formed a powerful and vicious retainer circle. Their power was even above party officials. The party officials were not servants of people. Instead they were servants of Chairman Mao. They cared for Chairman Mao¿s retainers a lot of more than they cared for people. The gossip of those retainers could cause party officials a serious trouble. People were powerless and ignored. The party officials entertained Chairman Mao¿s retainers with the best Chinese whiskey and the best Chinese cuisine while the Chinese commoners had a little of meat to eat. During the starvation period of the Great Famine, Chairman Mao even stopped eating meat. But his retainers flaunted the banner of
It is difficult to review this book not because of the quality of its research or its writing style, both of which are of the highest caliber, but because of the substance. Chang and Halliday set out to place Mao with Hitler and Stalin and succeed all too well. The stories of scheming, torture, murder, disloyalty, sadism and brutality are almost too much to take. Yet the research is top-notch, the sources too good to deny, the brutality confirmed by far too many. Over the bodies of 70 million Chinese looms this evil specter, all too well detailed herein. May he rot in hell.
The Authors of this book certainly put a large amount of effort into researching this subject, and there is certainly a small amount of bias in the book. Some of the things that they claim within the book seem to add a demonizing affect to Mao, not that he wasn’t a mini-Stalin to begin with. Overall it’s a good book, but it can be a little lacking at times. This book highlights the ups and downs of Mao’s life, with the good, the bad, and the morally grey all mixed together in a palatable way. This would be one of the reasons why I like it as much as I do, but the book also prematurely draws conclusions without fully checking out their resources which is a downer on such a well researched book as this one, if you had to pick something to use as resource for a school project I would say to use this book to give you topics to look into further.
Ruthless, cunning and wiley. This is a man you can trust - to lead you through hardship, suffering and death. It seems that all that was left of "China" is a piteous skeleton. Fascinating nonetheless.
My first impression of this book was it was just another book on a forgotten Chinese leader. It was not long before I became absorbed in the 56 chapters of this book. Using newly declassified Soviet source I became more aware what really was behind early Nationalist government and its dependence on Lenin¡¦s aid for controlling China. Chiang Kai-Shek (abbre. CKS thereafter) along with revolutionaries at the time who were invited by Lenin to master communism techniques. Those who favored a social class struggle and effectively applied a brutal social reform became communists those who favored a gradual transformation became nationalists. Inspite of numerous Chinese, and non-Chinese language references cited, the authors did not carefully research and sometimes drew premature conclusions based on their grasp of the content. Some of the examples include but not limited here. During the Northern Campaign to unify China, Sun Yet-Sen probably had his agenda than Moscow¡¦s envoys. Officially his motto was ¡§United with Soviets and Communists support the labor and farmers¡¨. The alliance became problematic quickly after the alliance as book suggests. Sun died and CKS who rose to replace Sun still had to rely Lenin for support. CKS¡¦s 1923 tour of Soviet Union showed disappointment (pp 19-25 in Reference 1 and pp 44-45 not substantiated in the book). It failed to mention that anti-imperialism was high on CKS agenda. Rather, the book merely suggested ¡§CKS was being liquidated by Borodin with secret order¡¨ from Lenin. However, it was not confirmed in any documents. The split (i.e., purge of the communists) initiated by CKS was more an expression of disappointment of Nationalist faction over the socialists after the Second Congress in 1926 (pp 43). It was not a decision made by CKS. Confidential documents seized by Peking government showed Chinese communists were linked to Soviet subversion. Furthermore, bad news from Changsha violence instigated by Mao affected Nationalist army officers and soldiers alike. The order to purify communists in Shanghai was a matter of time to gain stronghold by KMT by riding trouble makers (pp 45). The book states Mao was on Nationalist payroll to be a member of a standing committee around 1922. In those days the difference between Nationalist and Communists is the ideology employed. Sun¡¦s Huang-Po Military Academy started with 500 rifles donated by Lenin. Socialism and capitalism were openly debated by cadets, instructors and civilians. It was perfectly acceptable to switch from communism to nationalism or vice versa. It is somewhat similar to a Republican in America switches to become a Democrat. Even as late as 1949 the defected generals allowed their subordinates to choose side going to Peking or Taiwan (pp 308-9). The explanation about Chiang made a deal with Mao let the Reds go in exchange of his son¡¦s release makes a nice story (pp137). However, it is not substantiated with any credible citations. The situation is much more complex as the truth really lies in the diary of CKS and his son CCK at Hoover¡¦s Institute¡¦s vault. A lot of long march occurred in the uncharted territory of the Celestica Kingdom. My 2001 trip to NE Sichuan-Kansu following the footsteps of terrain and long march suggested it was and is exceedingly difficult today to pursue people in these steep hills. It would take millions soldiers to encircle and trap the red army. It was a lot easier for the regional nationalists chase reds out of their turf giving them to other regional commanders. The description of Dadu bridge crossing (pp153-155) is an interesting one as it would certainly rewrite the modern history of PRC and ruins its credibility. Edgar Snow wrote a different version story dramatize the event. Every Chinese citizen today was taught early about the courageous walk across the planks on the bridge under ¡§heavy enemy gun fire¡¨. If nationalist soldiers defending the same bridge by Li were actually 50 k