The Private Life of Chairman Mao

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“The most revealing book ever published on Mao, perhaps on any dictator in history.”—Professor Andrew J. Nathan, Columbia University

From 1954 until Mao Zedong's death twenty-two years later, Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler's personal physician, which put him in daily—and increasingly intimate—contact with Mao and his inner circle. in The Private Life of Chairman Mao, Dr. Li vividly reconstructs his extraordinary experience at the center of Mao's decadent imperial court.

Dr. Li clarifies numerous long-standing puzzles, such as the true nature of Mao's feelings toward the United States and the Soviet Union. He describes Mao's deliberate rudeness toward Khrushchev and reveals the actual catalyst of Nixon's historic visit. Here are also surprising details of Mao's personal depravity (we see him dependent on barbiturates and refusing to wash, dress, or brush his teeth) and the sexual politics of his court. To millions of Chinese, Mao was more god than man, but for Dr. Li, he was all too human. Dr. Li's intimate account of this lecherous, paranoid tyrant, callously indifferent to the suffering of his people, will forever alter our view of Chairman Mao and of China under his rule.

Praise for The Private Life of Chairman Mao

“From now one no one will be able to pretend to understand Chairman Mao's place in history without reference to this revealing account.”—Professor Lucian Pye, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Dr. Li does for Mao what the physician Lord Moran's memoir did for Winston Churchill—turns him into a human being. Here is Mao unveiled: eccentric, demanding, suspicious, unregretful, lascivious, and unfailingly fascinating. Our view of Mao will never be the same again.”—Ross Terrill, author of China in Our Time

“An extraordinarily intimate portrait of Mao. [Dr. Li] portrays [Mao's imperial court] as a place of boundless decadence, licentiousness, selfishness, relentless toadying and cutthroat political intrigue.”—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

“One of the most provocative books on Mao to appear since the publication of Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China.—Paul G. Pickowicz, The Wall Street Journal
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About the author

Born in Beijing in 1919, Dr. Li Zhi-Sui descended from a long line of eminent doctors. He recieved an MD from the West China Union University Medical School in 1945 and was appointed Mao Zedong's personal physician in 1954, a position he held until the Chairman's death in 1976. After emigrating to the United States, he published a critical biography of Mao based on his experiences. He died on February 14, 1995, shortly after its publication.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Jun 22, 2011
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Pages
736
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ISBN
9780307791399
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Political
History / Asia / China
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Margaret MacMillan, praised as “a superb writer who can bring history to life” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), brings her extraordinary gifts to one of the most important subjects today–the relationship between the United States and China–and one of the most significant moments in modern history.

In February 1972, Richard Nixon, the first American president ever to visit China, and Mao Tse-tung, the enigmatic Communist dictator, met for an hour in Beijing. Their meeting changed the course of history and ultimately laid the groundwork for the complex relationship between China and the United States that we see today.

That monumental meeting in 1972–during what Nixon called “the week that changed the world”–could have been brought about only by powerful leaders: Nixon himself, a great strategist and a flawed human being, and Mao, willful and ruthless. They were assisted by two brilliant and complex statesmen, Henry Kissinger and Chou En-lai. Surrounding them were fascinating people with unusual roles to play, including the enormously disciplined and unhappy Pat Nixon and a small-time Shanghai actress turned monstrous empress, Jiang Qing. And behind all of them lay the complex history of two countries, two great and equally confident civilizations: China, ancient and contemptuous yet fearful of barbarians beyond the Middle Kingdom, and the United States, forward-looking and confident, seeing itself as the beacon for the world.

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Weaving together fascinating anecdotes and insights, an understanding of Chinese and American history, and the momentous events of an extraordinary time, this brilliantly written book looks at one of the transformative moments of the twentieth century and casts new light on a key relationship for the world of the twenty-first century.
Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize

An unprecedented, groundbreaking history of China's Great Famine that recasts the era of Mao Zedong and the history of the People's Republic of China.

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