Jung Chang's book

From "brian turner" <bkt90@hotmail.com>
Date Fri, 08 Jul 2005 07:15:13 +0000
In-reply-to <>

Time Magazine has an article called "Taking Aim at Mao" which discusses Jung 
Chang's book.

The article praises the book, but does mention that (1) it's hard to 
evaluate the reliability of this evidence (2) the book is one-sided.

Re: (2) the writer mentioned that Chang left off such achievements of Mao 
as:  1-unifying the country 2-keeping China independent of the USSR 3-giving 
Chinese people national pride  4-marketing his image successfully abroad.

I find it interesting that whenever journalists or scholars want to not be 
one-sided against Mao, they cite this nationalistic stuff.  Philip Short, 
for instance, ignoring nonsense about a wrecked or stagnant economy, credits 
Mao for modernizing China.

Personally, I find nationalistic achievements and modernization not all that 
impressive.  I think Chiang Kai-Shek could have done just as well in 
unifying the country, keeping China independent, making China an 
international player, and growing the GDP.

Issues related to economic equality or the point made even by Mao-haters 
like Wei Jingsheng, Fang Lizhi, and non-admirers like Stuart Schram that the 
CR anti-bureaucratic populism (even if betrayed by Mao personally) has 
enhanced the potential for democracy in China (just political, though we 
could say the same re: economic democracy).

The Time writer also asked Chang why Mao is so popular, if he's so evil.  
She said that it's because of brainwashing.  There is no free press in China 
and there is nothing but books praising Mao.  The writer found this 
unsatisfying, but nevertheless said that if they ever get to read Chang's 
"atom bomb of a book", it will cure them of Mao admiration.  This reminds me 
of Mobo Gao's review of G. Barme's book on popular culture...he mentioned 
that Barme repeats a basic theme that the masses are hoodwinked re: Mao and 
the GLF/CR, and if they could only read this or that book, they'd see the 

I notice that when writers do try to analyze Mao's popularity in serious 
terms, they often cite the aforementioned nationalistic stuff. Doubtlessly 
that's true for young urban nationalists that admire Mao, but my impression 
is that the peasants of north, central, and western China (where Mao is most 
admired, so I gather from reading) is that they don't care about all that 
macho chauvinist nationalist stuff.  Am I right?


Apparently Chang claims in this book that Mao is not a Marxist theortician.  
I'm writing a paper/monograph arguing that many of Mao's practical policies 
are understandable in a Marxist framework.  So I'm most interested in what 
she's talking about.  Anyone know?  I wonder if she's just borrowing Nick 
Knight's argument that Mao's 1930s philosophic writings are mainly copied 
from Soviet philosophy.  I paid little attention that myself, being only 
interested policy, but found plenty of Marxist influence.

>From: Saul Thomas <stthomas@uchicago.edu>
>To: zhongguo@openflows.org
>Subject: Three pieces on Chang and Halliday's new Mao book
>Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 10:48:03 -0500
>Forwarded from Dirk Nimmegeers <dirknim@pandora.be>
>Dear all,
>In the following you will find two reviews of Jung Chang's and Jon
>Halliday's book against Mao. There is also an opinion article which tries 
>make use of the publishing of this book. The documents show more or less 
>what we are in for, the coming months.
>Countering the drift and the purposes of this book seems an urgent task. We
>will have to use facts and arguments to be effective though.