Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong : A Life

3.47 (950 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Spence draws upon his extensive knowledge of Chinese politics and culture to create an illuminating picture of Mao. . . . Superb." (Chicago Tribune)

From humble origins in the provinces, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, colonialism, and war. This sharply drawn and insightful account brings to life this modern-day emperor and the tumultuous era that he did so much to shape.

Jonathan Spence captures Mao in all his paradoxical grandeur and sheds light on the radical transformation he unleashed that still reverberates in China today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 129 x 182 x 15mm | 153g
  • The Penguin Press
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0143037722
  • 9780143037729
  • 227,574

Table of contents


1. A Child of Hunan

2. Self-Strengthening

3. Casting Around

4. Into the Party

5. Workers and Peasants

6. The Long Retreat

7. Crafting the Image

8. Taking Over

9. The Ultimate Vision

10. Bleak Harvest

11. Fanning the Flames

12. Embers

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Review quote

Praise for Mao Zedong: A Life

"Spence is the best known and most talented historian of China writing in English today. . . . His Mao Zedong succeeds."
--Los Angeles Times

"Exceptionally successful."
--The New Yorker

"The task of bringing Mao to a large, non-specialist audience is one for which Spence is eminently well-suited. His lucidly written, compellingly narrated explorations of modern Chinese history have attracted a readership unmatched by that of any other academic China specialist. His study of Mao is short . . . his writing tight, his judgments restrained."
--The Washington Post

"An elegant account, at once sparse and robust."
--The Economist

"Jonathan Spence [is] an eloquent chronicler of Chinese history. . . . [A] brisk, elegant book. . . . Spence skillfully uses Mao's letters and poems to explore the Chinese leader's thinking and relationships."
--USA Today

"There is no better person to write a general, readable account of Mao than Spence, an acclaimed Chinese historian and author of several biographies."
--Library Journal (starred review)

"Fluid and informative despite its brevity."
--Publishers Weekly
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About Jonathan D. Spence

Jonathan Spence (1936-2021): Was the author of more than a dozen well-regarded books which illuminate China's vast history through details that illuminated bigger pictures and themes. (The New York Times) including The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Treason by the Book, and The Death of Woman Wang. His awards include a Guggenheim and a MacArthur Fellowship. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008.
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Rating details

950 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 13% (124)
4 35% (334)
3 40% (383)
2 9% (86)
1 2% (23)
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