Mao Zedong And China In The Twentieth-Century

A Concise History written by Rebecca E. Karl is a book that focuses on Mao’s life and how he affected the modern world mostly inside of China. Karl herself is an Associate Professor of History at New York University and credits the books to her nieces and nephew. She talks at the very beginning of how she wanted this book to be a 20th-century look at Mao and his role within China’s modern history. Starting at the beginning of the book she goes through important parts of Mao’s life and how to play a part in turning Mao into who he was and what he did during the time of the Cultural revolution. She does not try to understand Mao just see what led him to become what he did and how the actions he took affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Also, what those choices mean and do for people today. What is different about this book however is instead of like an overview it is in the prospect of Mao. Karl believes that it is time again to visit how Mao himself as a leader in a revolutionary cause that promotes human agency. She does start by talking about the historiography of her subject, mainly the historiography set in 1945. This shows the Chinese Communist Party as suffering defeat after defeat and after the Long March how it changed the revolution. It changed it to, “a scared quest to avenge their fallen comrades. ” (pp. 48). After this, she points out how it became a War of Resistance and talks about Mao’s rise to power through the Chinese Communist Party. Talking about the different reasons Mao came into power, how it was not just military success, even though that did play a big part in it. Karl talks about it was the mindset he had as well and the ideas he brought to the table that gave him the push he needed to step into power. She does, however, talk about Mao’s style of being a dictator and the negative effects it had even if they were unseen at the time. This is where she does start to move more into the perspective of Mao.

It talks about putting stress as well on economic development so the bureaucracy could come into power. Also, how the party is starting the social movements by involving the masses and destroying hierarchies. Karl states that most of the poor had high enthusiasm about Mao’s strategy in the beginning but it soon dimmed, due to the communes he put in place. Then talks about how the intellectuals were trying to distance themselves from the party as well as the masses in China, also how Mao was a part of that. After the hundred flower campaign, Mao united with the party again and this time the outcast were the intellectuals. The same was said during the 1945 perspectives were the intellectuals were removed. Then it moves to how he started to plan the Cultural Revolution, after his issues after the great famine and leaving many of the economies to be dealt with by Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi. The account listed in this book of the Cultural revolution is mostly a revolution of ideas and their failure Karl put out by the fact that Mao could not stand by his theories but did applaud is courage in mobilizing masses and what he did what to do. She also points out the quick change of Maoism after Mao dead, when it was led by Deng Xiaoping. Someone who Mao was started to fear of taking over after him.

Overall, she gave a perspective that many people do not completely focus on and gives a good overall view on how Mao might have seen everything. However, with the number of scholars in China let alone the word it is surprising that their research of anything did not make it into this book. Some things in the book she states do not have the historical sources to back up even though a quick google or search through the library database says otherwise. It seems that she glossed over a lot of things and simplified them when even if she did not want to go into great detail could have at least given the reader some form of hint that these things were not all black and white. The biggest one would probably be with the Cultural revolution itself. Karl states that this was just a fight, like Mao vs them, when it is more a social movement of the nation of China that Mao did play a huge part in but was not the only star.

31 October 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now