Noting a new biography of Mao

Another biography of Mao Zedong appeared in the summer of 2020. This was an English translation of work undertaken by the historians of the Party Literature Research Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and covers Mao’s career in the period, 1893-1949.

The publicity blurb from publishers Cambridge University Press describe it as: “As an extended official account of Mao, and Mao’s thought, this work offers a unique source through which to view the Chinese Communist Party’s portrayal of the transformative events of the twentieth century and Mao’s pivotal role therein.”

This volume, the first of three, is the only biography of Mao written with full access to the Chinese Communist Party Archives to date

Originally published in 2011 in six volumes, the translation is edited by Sheng-chi Shu. It contains an introduction from the western academic Timothy Cheek. He notes,

This volume comprises the first of three volumes of the English translation of the official Chinese biography of Mao Zedong, Mao Zedong zhuan. The first part was published in 1996 by the CCP Central Committee’s Party Literature Research Office, covering the years from Mao’s birth in 1893 until the start of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. Jin Chongji (金冲及) is credited as the key editor and main writer of this part.”

Cheek discusses the treatment of Mao and his “living legacy”, framed by what he calls Reform China as ‘the crystallization of collected wisdom in the CCP’, and the political constraints in the historiography involved.  Of course the incentive to read is

 “The authors have privileged access to Party archives not available to other scholars inside or outside China. It is loaded with information (usually with specific documentary citations) not available in current Western or non-official biographies of Mao.”

So far unread and not bought until its cost is reduced from the retail price £125  –  £112 on ebay!

Product details

  • Format Hardback | 1018 pages
  • Dimensions 160 x 266 x 49mm | 1,740g
  • Publication date 27 Aug 2020
  • Publisher Cambridge University Press
  • Publication City/Country Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Language English
  • Illustrations note 3 Maps; 21 Halftones, black and white
  • ISBN13 9781107092723

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s