Book Review: MAO By Philip Short

Mao Zedong Book Cover Page

China would soon take its place as the preeminent power in the world. It’s emergence as the global geopolitical and economic superpower cannot be fully comprehended without studying the life and struggle of the man who made China: Mao Zedong. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius, honored by the folk as the sage of the sages, once said

Study the past if you would define the future


Mao himself was fascinated with history. His fascination may have come from one of the famous chinese classic texts Three Character Classic

Records of rule and misrule, of the rise and fall of dynasties,

Let he who studies history examine these faithful chronicles,

Till he understands ancient and modern things as if before his eyes

Excerpt from the Three Character Classic

Why read this book?

The book: Mao, The Man who made China, published 2017, is a daunting piece of research. It was first published as Mao: A life in 1999. It is a comprehensive biography and the author has provided his readers with a deep ingress into the life, ideas and beliefs of one of the great figures of the 20th century. No other author has so exhaustively and systematically narrated the events that took place in China at that time. The author has also been fairly successful in objectively writing this book.

The book is well chapterized and the first few chapters are related to the early stages of his life and the circumstances in which the great Mao Zedong grew up. In rest of the chapters, the author has remarkably correlated Mao’s life and ideas with his struggles and the events that lead to the reemergence of China from the ashes of history.

About the author

The author Philip Short carries a vast experience working as a journalist in Washington, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing. He has lived in China in 70s and 80s. He is also the author of the celebrated biographies of Francois Mitterrand and Pol Pot.

The author has received praise from all corners of the literary community for his brilliant work in writing this book

Nowhere has the story of the late Chinese leader been told with greater authority

Anne Thurston, Director of the Grassroots China Initiative, John Hopkins University

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