• by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean
  • 29 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, this is the most authoritative biography of Mao ever written. 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.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.


What the Critics Say

"Sweeping." (Publishers Weekly)
"Boasts a monumental marshaling of detail and historiographically overturning revelations." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fills many gaps! Very good..but!

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!
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- Jene

The Tragedy of Jung Chang and Her Readers

I felt very disappointed to find little new facts in the book while the authors’ explicitly biased tone in the book quickly roused my questioning about their objectivity.

Jung has put so much hatred and anger into their book that it completely clouded their common sense of fairness and justice in their writing. Letting her personal feeling to blind her judgment and writing in such a prejudiced way will not help achieving her supposed goal: to tell a true story of modern China and to expose Mao and his followers for their crime.

Reading the book brought me right back to the time of Mao’s era, not because the story was about that period but because the tone of the writing was so familiar, reminding me of the “internal materials” published by the communist government. Every historical event related to a criticized political figure would be re-written and every thing he/she did would be interpreted as with evil intentions.

Surprisingly and unfortunately, Jung and Jon’s writing used pretty much the same approach the communist party used in Mao’s years. Through out the book, I saw the same approach of quoting out of context, using partial facts or twisted facts, making generalization without solid supporting facts, using sensational stories to enhance emotional impact on the readers and asserting conclusions to the readers without any space for dispute.

It is such a tragedy that Jung, as a victim of the terrible years of Mao’s reign, who suffered the forced brain washing of the communist government, is now, 40 years later, using the exact same methods employed by the communist party, to tell a partial story to the unsuspicious readers, who would never suspect that in a democratic society, they can also be subject to same type of brainwashing that is done to the people in China.
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- G. Wu

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-11-2006
  • Publisher: Books on Tape