This huge biography of Mao, the work of a married couple formed by a writer and a historian, aims to present itself as an essential book about the founder of the Chinese communist regime. It is in terms of the documentation handled and the interviews conducted by the authors, although it has numerous literary features that try to delve into Mao’s psychology, which offers a portrait of a ruthless and thirsty leader of power.
Throughout these pages you can see the hand of Jung Chang, the author of Wild Swans , one of the most popular novels about Mao’s China. Chang suffered in his own flesh the humiliations of the Cultural Revolution, for which he had had a previous enthusiasm. Perhaps this book was born as an attempt to delve into the figure of the man who quickly modernized China without caring about the price of millions of lives. That same leader captivated the writer in her youth, although from that idealized image there is only one monster left who can sacrifice everyone, including her own family, for the sake of her personal ambition.
Chang introduces a Mao who would never have loved anyone, or his mother, his wives or his own children, and who had no true friends, not even among his closest party partners. The Mao of this book does not seem to worry about ideologies, which the author never delves into, because for its protagonist, obsessed with the power and constructor of a cult of personality similar to that of Stalin or any of the great Chinese emperors, The only important thing was absolute power, although he tried to convince others that to obey him blindly was to serve the people. Mao, seen by the authors, is a perfect instrumentalist who uses the same from his rival, the nationalist Chiang Kai-shek, who from the Soviets, whom he needed to turn China into a world power, or the Americans, for Nixon’s famous trip to Beijing is presented as an authentic work of seduction by the communist leader.
The book also profiles Mao as a specialist in unleashing terror, both to gain control of the Communist Party and to subdue the peasant masses on which the leader would have based his revolution. Anyone who openly disagrees with Mao, such as President Liu Shaoqi, who questioned his aims and methods, was sentenced; Liu was the victim of a prolonged revenge in time of extreme psychological cruelty.
However, in this chronicle of a throne of blood is not missing some melancholic touch in the last years of Mao’s life, when he invited to visit a Nixon politically annulled by Watergate or lamented the disappearance of Emperor Haile Selassie or Chiang himself Kai-shek Perhaps he felt identified with them because death had come to them or they had lost power.Such was the man that China today can not openly deny without questioning its own legitimacy.