Mao: The Unknown Story

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.

Combining meticulous history with the story-telling style of Wild Swans, this biography makes immediate Mao’s roller-coaster life, as he intrigued and fought every step of the way to force through his unpopular decisions. 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 behaviour towards 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.


Reviews of Mao: The Unknown Story


“An atom bomb of a book.”

“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, last British governor of Hong Kong, in The Times

“Chilling…Impressive… An extremely compelling portrait of Mao that will still shock many. .”
The Christian Science Monitor

“An important book in ways not envisaged…A work of unanswerable authority.”
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“The most complete and assiduously researched biography of its subject yet published…No earlier work comes close to matching the density of detail here…The authors have performed brilliant historical detective work.”
The Atlantic Monthly

“Chang and Halliday cast new and revealing light on nearly every episode in Mao’s tumultuous life … a stupendous work and one hopes that it will be brought before the Chinese people, who still claim to venerate the man and who have yet to come to terms with their own history …”
Michael YahudaThe Guardian

“A magisterial work…This magnificent biography methodically demolishes every pillar of Mao’s claim to sympathy or legitimacy…A triumph.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have not, in the whole of their narrative, a good word to say about Mao. In a normal biography, such an unequivocal denunciation would be both suspect and tedious. But the clear scholarship, and careful notes, of TheUnknown Story provoke another reaction. Mao Tse-Tung’s evil, undoubted and well-documented, is unequalled throughout modern history.”
Roy HattersleyThe Observer

“A triumph. It is a mesmerising portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder and promiscuity, a barrage of revisionist bombshells, and a superb piece of research.”
Simon Sebag MontefioreThe Sunday Times

“Jung Chang and Jon Halliday enter a savage indictment drawing on a host of sources, including important Soviet ones, to blow away the miasma of deceit and ignorance which still shrouds Mao’s life from many Western eyes…Jung Chang delivers a cry of anguish on behalf of all of those in her native land who, to this day, are still not free to speak of these things.”
Max HastingsThe Sunday Telegraph

“Demonstrating the same pitilessness that they judge to be Mao’s most formidable weapon, they unstitch the myths that sustained him in power for forty years and that continue to underpin China’s regime … I suspect that when China comes to terms with its pastthis book will have played a role.”
Nicolas ShakespeareTelegraph

“The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in its horror, is the most powerful, compelling, and revealing political biography of modern times. Few books are destined to change history, but this one will.”
George WaldenDaily Mail

“decisive biography … they have investigated every aspect of his personal life and career, peeling back the layers of lies, myths, and what we used to think of as facts … what Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, everything that has gone before.”
Jonathan MirskyThe Independent, Saturday

“Written with the same deft hand that enlivened Ms. Chang’s 1991 memoir, Wild Swans…”
The Economist


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Mao: The Unknown Story is also available in the following languages:

Kannada (web edition only)
Mao: The Unknown Story
UK edition

Mao: The Unknown Story is available in Hardback, Paperback, eBook; and Audio CD in abridged and unabridged versions.
Mao US Audio Cassette (Unabridged)
Mao US Audio CD (Unabridged)
Mao UK Audio Book (Unabridged)
Mao Danish Audio CD

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