“Mao possessed a terrible weapon, the ruthlessness. In 1948 he moved to the city of Changchun in Manchuria, and when the direct assault to conquer it failed, he was given the order to force her to surrender by starvation. On 30 May, the field commander Lin Biao said, word for word: Turn Changchun in a city of death.
There is a wave of curiosity by the Western world, to China; to the fore in all the newspapers for what it is a new great leap forward in the economy, a plethora of cultural activities, an export of goods and ideas.
It is not a coincidence that, forty years after the death of Mao Tse-tung, have been published more or less simultaneously three books around the figure of the Great Helmsman, the biography of the American Philip Short Mao. Man, the revolutionary, the tyrant , published by Rizzoli, the autobiography of Ming Chen, a professor victim of the Cultural Revolution and Mao, the Unknown Story, written by the Chinese Jung Chang and her husband, the British historian Jon Halliday.
It took ten years to Jung Chang and Jon Halliday to collect and process the material for this weighty biography accompanied by two hundred pages of bibliography.
The result is a big picture of the bleak, teeming with figures and scenes of the Brueghel which dominates the character of Mao.
Indeed, if we imagine a picture, it is as if the face of Mao – which he imposed the cult of personality – surfaced everywhere, in the columns of the army of the Long March and between the skeletal figures of the dead of hunger, in the waters of the Yangtze in which he liked to show great swimmer and among the forced laborers of the Laogai, in the midst of crowds waving the Little Red Book and surrounded by imperial concubines.
What to remember, the incisive phrases uttered by Mao Tse-tung, to better characterize his character and the era on which he has left his mark?
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday entirely demolish the figure of the dictator and what remains, after reading this biography, is the image of a man extremely cruel – on par or maybe more of Hitler and Stalin -, indifferent to the fate of the people:
“We are willing to sacrifice up to 300 million Chinese for the victory of the world revolution,” “They only leaves to eat?
Correspond to these sentences of the numbers: 70 million deaths in China during Mao’s government, of which 38 million for famine relief in the years ’58-’61, the result of the Great Leap Forward, which was supposed to become China’s power nuclear power.
Whether the transfer of the farmers in the factories and the export of foodstuffs would defeat the people’s essential needs for survival, it mattered little to Mao: “the dead fertilize the soil” and “people like me have duties only to themselves , we have obligations to others. “
Perhaps these are the words that best explain the man whose name ironically means “splendor on the east.”
What makes the fascinating biography of Jung Chang and Halliday is the amalgam of historical narrative and near vision, official documentation recently discovered Chinese and Russian archives and testimonies of those who lived and survived those years although it is impossible to verify what was actually said by witnesses.
Chang and Halliday have worked to dispel the myths, that of the Long Marchwhen Mao took a step, 12 months, 10,000 km., In a sedan chair, lying down to read facilitated by Chiang Kai Chek who feared for son held hostage by the Soviets, and that of collectivization, which resulted in a form of slavery, looking from another perspective the Cultural Revolution a witness calls it was a single, massive torture chamber specify that terrify figures 4922 historical monuments razed to the ground in Beijing, added to the burning of books meant that China would turn into a “cultural desert”), describing the torture and public executions.
Nothing remains of Mao ideologue, promoter of the Agricultural Revolution and liberator of women enslavement male.
Even Mao “private” results in a wholly negative light, as no different from a public figure – and abandoned children, poor affection for their wives, no feeling of friendship.
Proof of this is to have denied medical care to Chou En-lai, cancer patient, for fear that he could survive it.
But his last words before his death, on the night of September 9, 1976, were: “Call the doctors.”