Based on a decade of research and on interviews with many of Mao's
close circle in China who have never talked beforeand with virtually
everyone outside China who had significant dealings with himthis is
the most authoritative life of Mao ever written. It is full of startling
revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a
completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his
intimate and intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s,
ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed Japanese occupation of
much of China; and he schemed, poisoned and blackmailed to get his way.
After Mao conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the
world. In chasing this dream he caused the deaths of 38 million people
in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese
perished under Mao's rulein peacetime.
Combining meticulous research with the story-telling style of Wild
Swans, this biography offers a harrowing portrait of Mao's
ruthless accumulation of power through the exercise of terror: his first
victims were the peasants, then the intellectuals and, finally, the
inner circle of his own advisors. The reader enters the shadowy chambers
of Mao's court and eavesdrops on the drama in its hidden recesses.
Mao's character and the enormity of his behavior toward his wives,
mistresses and children are unveiled for the first time.
This is an entirely fresh look at Mao in both content and approach. It
will astonish historians and the general reader alike.
After the success of Wild Swans, many would have rested on their laurels, perhaps churning out a follow up memoir or two. Not Chang; instead, she and her husband, historian Jon Halliday, took advantage of the financial independence provided by the success of Wild Swans to focus the next ten years of their lives on a book about Chairman Mao - a book that they believe reveals the true character of the man who ruled China for 27 years. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The London Review of Books - Andrew Nathan, Columbia University
[M]any of their discoveries come from sources that cannot be checked, others are openly speculative or are based on circumstantial evidence, and some are untrue.
The Sunday Telegraph - Max Hastings
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday enter a savage indictment drawing on a host of sources, including important Soviet ones, to blow away the miasma of deceit and ignorance which still shrouds Mao's life from many Western eyes...Jung Chang delivers a cry of anguish on behalf of all of those in her native land who, to this day, are still not free to speak of these things.
Written with the same deft hand that enlivened Ms. Chang's 1991 memoir, Wild Swans.
The Independent - Jonathan Mirsky
[A] decisive biography...they have investigated every aspect of his personal life and career, peeling back the layers of lies, myths, and what we used to think of as facts...what Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, everything that has gone before.
Daily Mail - George Walden
The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in its horror, is the most powerful, compelling, and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will.
The Telegraph - Nicolas Shakespeare
Demonstrating the same pitilessness that they judge to be Mao's most formidable weapon, they unstitch the myths that sustained him in power for forty years and that continue to underpin China's regime....I suspect that when China comes to terms with its past this book will have played a role.
Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, in The Times (London)
Ever since the spectacular success of Chang's Wild Swans we have waited impatiently for her to complete with her husband this monumental study of China's most notorious modern leader. The expectation has been that she would rewrite modern Chinese history. The wait has been worthwhile and the expectation justified. This is a bombshell of a book.
The Guardian - Michael Yahuda
Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao's tumultuous life....stupendous work and one hopes that it will be brought before the Chinese people, who still claim to venerate the man and who have yet to come to terms with their own history
The Observer - Roy Hattersley
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have not, in the whole of their narrative, a good word to say about Mao. In a normal biography, such an unequivocal denunciation would be both suspect and tedious. But the clear scholarship, and careful notes, of The Unknown Story provoke another reaction. Mao Tse-Tung's evil, undoubted and well-documented, is unequalled throughout modern history.
The Sunday Times - Simon Sebag Montefiore
A triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Henry Wood It's not good as The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr. Zhisui Li Chang and Halliday’s Mao, Unknown Story is good, but it is not good as The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr. Zhisui Li
Chang and Halliday’s Mao, Unknown Story provided a brand new version and perspective of Chairman Mao. It is the first time... Read More
Rated of 5
by rlg924 an important book to read! An eye-opening book to the brutality of this monster, which explodes the myths still believed about him. Jung Chang has superbly tackled the incredibly difficult task of trying to determine the truth in a country and time where propaganda and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Larry Hochman A 2-hour perusal of this book. I would appreciate feedback at Dochoch29@aol.com.
Some of the allegations are facially unbelievable. I have no access to the Chinese cites nor most of the non-Chinese, other than MacFarquhar which I will consult.
1) The notion that everyone... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jin Xiaoding Comments on J. Chang and J. Halliday Book The book of J. Chang and J. Haliday, Mao, the unknown story, is very
dishonest, distorting the truth and misleading the Western public into
profound misunderstanding of Mao, China modern history and China itself.
The book central... Read More
was born in Yibin, Sichuan
Province, China, in 1952. She
was a Red Guard briefly at the
age of fourteen and then worked
as a peasant, a "barefoot
doctor," (A lay health care
worker who received 3-6 months
training in basic medical
a steelworker, and an
electrician before becoming an
English-language student and,
later, an assistant lecturer at
She left China for Britain in
1978 and was subsequently
awarded a scholarship by York
University, where she obtained a
Ph.D. in linguistics in 1982,
the first person from the
People's Republic of China to
receive a doctorate from a
At once a powerful allegory of a rising China, racked by contradictions, and a seminal examination of the Tiananmen Square protests, Beijing Coma is Ma Jians masterpiece. Spiked with dark wit, poetic beauty, and deep rage, this extraordinary novel confirms his place as one of the worlds most significant living writers.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...