Mao Zedong and the Chinese Revolutionby Corinne J. Naden
Mao Zedong was born in a tiny village in China's Hunan Province, and ended up one of the most significant political figures of the twentieth century. Starting his career earnestly as a librarian, Mao rose to the head of China's Communist Party, and eventually changed the course of his nation's history.
Several recent Mao biographies overshadow this one. Naden's account lacks balance and clarity, occasionally distorting the record (e.g., blaming Qing for "sparking the Opium War," and the dynasty's decline on anti-opium-trade efforts, ignoring the roles of Empress "Tz'u-his" [Cixi] and the West). Yuan's dictatorship lasted four years, not "more than a decade." The text includes idiosyncratic, unsourced death figures for landowners and Korean War troops. Key details, like Chiang's deadly dike destruction, are missing, while pointless redundancies ("Mao's [family] did not go...with him. Instead, they stayed behind") are included. Essential differences between Nationalists and Communists go unexplained; Chiang's failure is made to seem purely military. Most maps are too small and uncaptioned, the time line thin. There are also multiple errors of diction and grammar. Choose Ann Malaspina's The Chinese Revolution and Mao Zedong in World History (Enslow, 2004) or Kathlyn Gay's Mao Zedong's China (21st Century Bks., 2007) instead.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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