A giant of 20th century history, Mao Zedong played many roles: peasant revolutionary, patriotic leader against the Japanese occupation, Marxist theoretician, modernizer, and visionary despot. This Very Short Introduction chronicles Mao's journey from peasant child to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth. Delia Davin provides an invaluable portrait of Mao, showing him in all his complexity--ruthless, brutal, and ambitious, a man of enormous talent and perception, yet a leader who is still detested by some and venerated by others. She shows how he helped found both the Chinese Communist Party and the Red Army, and how for many years he fought on two fronts, for control of the Party and in an armed struggle for the Party's control of the country. His revolution unified China and began its rise to world power status. He was the architect of the Great Leap Forward that he hoped would make China both prosperous and egalitarian, but instead ended in economic disaster resulting in millions of deaths. It was Mao's growing suspicion of his fellow leaders that led him to launch the Cultural Revolution, and his last years were dogged by ill-health and his despairing attempts to find a successor. Davis also looks at the years of his death, when the reform leadership abandoned Mao's revolutionary goals and embraced the market.
About the Series:
Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
[A] tautly argued, plainly told, luminous story that does full justice to all sides of the argument * The China Journal *
1: Formative years
2: Marxist Labour organizer to Peasant Revolutionary
3: Achieving pre-eminence 1934-1949
4: The revolution institutionalized: first years of the People's Republic
5: The Great Leap Forward and its Aftershocks
6: The Cultural Revolution
7: Decline and death
8: Assessments and legacies
References and further reading