Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
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Not worth your time
am 4. Juli 2010
I cannot recommend this book to anyone who has even te slightest of knowledge of Mao and his policies. While the book claims to have "the unknown story", very little of it is new. Most of my grievances with this book lie in it's style of writing. The entire book is highly repetitive (ie. the subjects of food exports & living standards in China vs. other communist states, the superpower programme, Mao's "food squeeze", purging, his "bunker villas"). The introduction of each chapter is an elaborate recap of the previous chapter. I think that with more efficient editing, this book would be 200 pages lighter.
The second objection to this book is that it is very one-sided and one-dimensional; I cannot believe that a person can exist without at least one redeeming feature, no matter how small. This is the portrait they paint of Mao. I am not argueing that he was not a terrible man who caused unspeakable misery for his own ends, but the authors failure to create an in-depth view in Maos personality makes the book feel equally propagandist as anything put forward by the communist regime in China. This is not even a biography in this way, more like a chronicle of the Chinese revolution.
Thirdly, the book insists on drawing its own conclusions for you. If a book covering a subject of such magnitude does not allow you to think for yourself, there is no point in reading it. It would, given the overwhelming evidence against Mao, be far more acceptable to present the reader with the facts and have him make up his own mind.
Fourthly, I have problems with their choice of words. They lean heavily on emotional vocabulary, when the meaning of the sentence would achieve the same results. One example of this overuse of modifiers and filler words is "...hundreds were beaten to death, often in a ghastly way." I have never heard of anyone being beaten to death in a nice way. For this I see failure of the editor to correct the author on her muddled style. I far that most of their wording comes from their strong, personal hatred of Mao.
And lastly, concerning the "facts" in this book: some are unfounded (and thus without proper reference to them in the back of the book) while others are pure speculation, ie. what Mao is thinking at any given time. Others are quite contradictory: in one chapter, they write that Mao is no good with numbers and math. Yet in the next he is quoted to be aware of the consequences of certain policies when he says "...30000 may die." This is of course just one example, but there are a few more like this.
In short: read a different bio. I can recommend Philip Short's version of Maos life.