The Unknown Story

Book - 2005
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Random House, Inc.
“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.”
–Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, in The Times (London)

Based on a decade of research and on interviews with many of Mao’s close circle in China who have never talked before–and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him–this 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 rule–in 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.

Baker & Taylor
A gripping portrait of the late Chinese leader provides hitherto unavailable details about the life of Mao Tse-tung, exploding a wide variety of myths about Mao, including facts about the Long March, his relationship with Stalin, his ruthless campaign of getting his own way, his monstrous behavior toward those close to him, and the devastating impact of his thirst for power on the Chinese people. 75,000 first printing

& Taylor

A portrait of the late Chinese leader refutes a wide variety of myths about Mao and provides facts about the Long March, his relationship with Stalin, and the impact of his thirst for power on the Chinese people.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2005.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780679422716
Characteristics: vii, 814 p., [32] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Halliday, Jon
Alternative Title: Unknown story


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Aug 23, 2017

If you would like to know the truth, don't waste your time - this book is totally a biased hatchet job.

Jul 13, 2016

This book deals mainly with cataloguing the staggering death toll wrought by Mao as he rose to power.

Mar 08, 2015

A look at the life and times of Mao and his brutal hold on China and desire to rule the world. His life is not portrayed in any kind of respectful way. The authors are definitely attempting to show Mao in the worst possible light. Unfortunately though there is notes the annotations are not included in the text which makes it more difficult to verify statements as facts or the authors' vitriol. Worth reading none the less.

Liz806 Sep 30, 2014

Started reading this book and ended up skipping through it. Just too many details about horrible happenings.......also it jumped around in time from history to present day and all over making connections. I had to keep checking around in order to keep things straight. An interesting read that went on and on........

Jul 01, 2014

This book was prejudiced even backed by seemingly scholarly style citations and materials. She did a very hard job to make her judgement reasonable. Unfortunately, her account was basically contradict to both the achievements and great writings by Mao.

May 13, 2014

This tome chronicles the life of one of the 20th century’s most famous military and political movers. Mao came from obscurity to lead the revolution that enabled him to rule a quarter of humanity. Not strictly a biography of Mao, and the authors obviously not fans of Mao, they nevertheless take us through the complex moving jigsaw puzzle of people, places and events in China that enabled Mao to take and hold onto power in the world’s most populous country for the rest of his life.

Oct 09, 2011

available SHirley

Oct 20, 2008

hatchet job, but deserved


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