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by Philip Short

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Philip Short
Sceptre; New Ed edition (September 21, 2000)
800 pages
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Philip Short (born 17 April 1945) is a British journalist and author. He was born in Bristol on 17 April 1945. He studied at Queens' College, Cambridge

Philip Short (born 17 April 1945) is a British journalist and author. He studied at Queens' College, Cambridge. After graduation, he spent from 1967 to 1973 as a freelance journalist, first in Malawi, then in Uganda. He then joined the BBC as a foreign correspondent. He worked there for 25 years

FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Mao Zedong was a defining figure of the twentieth century. Exterior shows signs of light to moderate use. Pages are crisp and clean.

FREE shipping on qualifying offers. Military strategist, statesman, fiendishly clever politician. He first encountered Pol Pot in Beijing in 1977. His last book, Mao: A Life, has been hailed as the definitive biography of the founder of modern China. The definitive portrait of Pol Pot, the enigmatic man behind the most terrifying regime of modern times Pol Pot was an idealistic.

Mao: A Life is that rare exception. Philip Short has written a balanced, thorough (to a fault, some have said) and very well written. He gives Mao his due as a military strategist, but pulls no punches when addressing such disastrous policies as the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution. Yes, it is long, but it is far from a slog. So gifted a writer is Short that I w The typical "great man" biography tends to be either hagiographic or tendentious, especially when dealing with titanic personalities.

Of the three great tyrants of the 20th century-Hitler, Stalin, and Mao-the West generally knows the least about the latter. When the Nationalists routed a ragtag Red Army on the Xiang River during the Long March, an earthy Chinese peasant with a brilliant mind moved to a position of power. Eight years after his military success, Mao Tse-tung had won out over more sophisticated rivals to become party chairman, his title for life.

Includes bibliographical references and index

Includes bibliographical references and index.

For thirty years Philip Short was a foreign correspondent for the BBC, based in Washington, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing. He lived and worked in China in the 1970s and '80s, and has returned regularly to the country ever since.

Title: Mao: A Life Item Condition: used item in a very good condition. Author: Philip Short ISBN 10: 034060624X. Used-like N : The book pretty much look like a new book. Read full description. See details and exclusions. Mao: A Life by Philip Short (Hardback, 1999). Pre-owned: lowest price.

Now both Philip Short, in his "Mao: A Life," and Jonathan Spence, in "Mao Zedong," have gone into the archives to pry the big moose head off the wall . Think of Short's volume as the Big Red Book and Spence's as the Short One.

Now both Philip Short, in his "Mao: A Life," and Jonathan Spence, in "Mao Zedong," have gone into the archives to pry the big moose head off the wall: the enigmatic arch-Heffalump of Red China, the Bamboo Curtain bugaboo - the cuddly dictator. Mao's crimes and achievements alike have been veiled for a half century beneath a fog of rumor and propaganda.

  • Undeyn
This is a superbly written biography of Mao Zedong who I feel should be in any Sinophile's library. The great detail of Mao Zedong's early life and how he got into Communism is excellent. The description of his Anarchist/Marxist philosophy gives a reader a very clear understanding on why Communism came about in China; that it was mostly accepted by the majority of the Chinese population (especially peasants) and not initially enforced upon them, a view held by most Americans. The sad developments of Hundred Flowers Campaign, Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are also revealed in great detail.

However, no matter how good this book is, I'm still a little bothered by some of it's lack of details on certain very important aspects of modern Chinese history.

1) Not enough was mention about his relationship with Japanese when China was engaged in the war with Japan. Nothing was mentioned on any possible collaboration with Japan that would have upset certain Chinese who claimed that the Communists did more against Japanese than Nationalist.

2) And talking about the Sino Japanese War, why wasn't the big battle of Operation Ichigo mentioned? China would have faced annihilation from Japan during this gigantic operation in 1944, something that worried China greatly and affect the future of the Communists and Nationalists.

3) Not enough about Zhou Enlai was mentioned. Zhou Enlai's proposal of the Four Modernization program was used by Deng Xiaoping to transformed China. I felt this is ultra-important information that should have been mentioned about the 70s. The contrast of Mao Zedong's ultra left views with Zhou's moderate views would have given the reader a great understanding how Deng's program succeeded in the great transformation of modern China from Mao's disastrous programs.

4) Mao Zedong developed some sort of mental illness later in life which caused the strange series of events during the cultural revolution, especially his purge of Liu Shaoqi; this mental illness was possibly caused by drugs (this was mentioned in Harrison Salisbury's "New Emperors" this would have explained his erratic behavior during his old age.

But otherwise this is a truly good book. I am most impressed by Short's ultra unbiased viewpoints.

Anybody who read this book should compare it with the Chiang Kai Shek's biography, " Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost", by Jonathan Fenby.
  • VizoRRR
Parts of this biography are well-researched and make abundant sense, and other parts are severely lacking. The beginning is good; Short clearly explains Mao's childhood and early life up until he begins to be politically active. However, once Mao becomes a student Short contents himself with describing Mao switching schools wildly in a time of national instability; the personal element is missing. Did Mao know anyone during this time, or have any friends or influential personal figures, or was he really all alone, as seems implied?

Repeatedly, Short makes the mistake of describing what Mao is doing in his career in the early CCP without giving us necessary background about the other important figures in the founding and then operating of the CCP in cooperation with the Comintern in Russia. Because he doesn't explain this, we can't understand what internal communist politics are like, which severely hampers the rest of the book. Since most of Mao's later power comes from the hold he acquires over the CCP, it would help if we understood clearly how this came to be!

Thus, this biography focuses too much on historical events without adequate descriptions of the mechanisms of power that cause the events!

On the other hand, the historical narrative is quite well handled; hence three stars . . .
  • Groll
Despite being often hugely unwieldy in terms of detail and background, I have to give this book 5 stars simply for going to the lengths offering such detail in the first place. The author seems to start explaining a particular point before suddenly realising that historical context for the point is needed, promptly shooting off on a tangent without much warning sometimes multiple historical instances deep. By the time the original point is returned to, if the reader hadn't been completely alert going into a point, they'll have forgotten why the point was being discussed in the first place. Things get better towards the end, as more and more of China's context is derived from Mao's actions and the actions of his compatriots and contemporaries.

Having read works on Zhou Enlai, Jiang Jieshi / Chiang Kaishek, and Zhao Ziyang that seemed devoid of enough living detail for a reader to derive motivations from, this book is completely overloaded with such detail. As I said, this can be a little disconcerting at times, but after finishing it, few readers would have chosen any other style, having come away with an insanely definitive portrait of Mao Zedong.
  • Brightcaster
Philip Short is an extraordinarily capable biographer. His book on Pol Pot is the standard on the subject of that strange man that all future biographies on the leader of the Khmer Rouge will struggle to meet, much less surpass. So it was with great confidence that I purchased his biography of Mao, and I was not disappointed. Short understands the nuanced intertwining of culture and personality like few others. Good biographies are few and far between, and Mister Short is one of the most capable crafts-persons of that greatly under-appreciated genre. Highly recommended.
  • Ueledavi
I got so much out of it that I'm reading it again.