Monday, October 24, 2005

Mao: The Unknown Story

Nicholas D. Kristof, the NY Times acclaimed book reviewer, has written a good, analytical article on Jung Chang's newest book, Mao: The Unknown Story. Chang previously wrote "Wild Swans", a book about three generations of Chinese women under the pretense of fact. I read Wild Swans in high school; it was in fact one of the first books I read about my own people. Kristof cites Chang's new book on Mao as an interesting read, and superficially accurate, although possibly glossing over some of its ambiguous source material. I'm not a scholar on Chinese history, but I do know that Mao's reign over China was one that had devastating effects on my family. Both my mother and father's families were part of the Kuomintang movement, and fled China immediately prior to the Cultural Revolution. I wish I knew more about my family's story in relation what happened during that tumultous time in China's history but my parents were very young, and they are fully aware of how much propaganda was instilled in them having their education been split between their growing up in China and later in Taiwan. My mother freely admits that she knows nothing about Chinese political history. Nonetheless, it's nice to see writers start to examine Mao more closely, and to consider his influence being as much a ruthless dictator as he is considered to be a visionary by Chinese nationals.