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The most authoritative life of Mao ever written, by the bestselling author of Wild Swans and her husband

Jung Chang's Wild Swans was an extraordinary bestseller throughout the world, selling more than 10 million copies and reaching a wider readership than any other book about China. Now she and her husband Jon Halliday have written a groundbreaking biography of Mao Tse-tung.
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 life 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.
Combining meticulous history with the story-telling style of Wild Swans, this biography makes immediate Mao's roller-coaster life, as he intrigued and fought every step of the way to force through his unpopular decisions. 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 behaviour towards 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.

Reviews

The first great political biography of the twenty-first century

Frank Johnson, Spectator

This is a bombshell of a book... Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done this extraordinary country a huge service with this book, which will one day be read as widely within China as it will deservedly be in the outside world

Chris Patten, The Times

Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life... Magnificent... It is a stupendous work

Michael Yahuda, Guardian

Devastating... Awesome... Mesmerising... 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

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. This is the first intimate, political biography of the greatest monster of them all

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Sunday Times

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's meticulously researched biography explodes every unquestioned truth... An extraordinary exercise in iconoclasm that is likely to play its own part in changing history

Isabel Hilton, New Statesman

Awesome yet immensely readable

Ruth Rendell, Guardian

What Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, all that has gone before

Jonathan Mirsky, Independent

This book's strength is [Chang and Halliday's] understanding of the importance of bringing the human, or inhuman, alive in Mao's story. This, they do brilliantly

Richard McGregor, Financial Times

The authors shred the myths in which Mao's national and international reputation rested... Jung Chang and John Halliday have done this extraordinary country a huge service with this book, which will one day be read as widely inside China as it will deservedly be in the outside world

Chris Patten, The Times

A magisterial work... This magnificent biography methodically demolishes every pillar of Mao's claim to sympathy or legitimacy... A triumph

New York Times Book Review

An important book in ways not envisaged... A work of unanswerable authority

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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, 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 pastthis book will have played a role

Nicolas Shakespeare, Telegraph

Chilling... Impressive... An extremely compelling portrait of Mao that will still shock many

Christian Science Monitor

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, Independent

An irresistible, revelatory read

Herald

A riveting read

Christie Hickman, Sunday Express

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099507376

    September 1, 2009

    Vintage

    992 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

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  • EBook

    9781448156863

    September 30, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    992 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
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