Mao Zedong a Life

by Jonathan Spence



From humble origins in the provinces, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, colonialism, and war. This sharply drawn and insightful account brings to life this modern-day emperor and the tumultuous era that he did so much to shape.

Jonathan Spence captures Mao in all his paradoxical grandeur and sheds light on the radical transformation he unleashed that still reverberates in China today. (Penguin, Aug 29 2006, Pbk, 208pp)

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About the Author

Jonathan Spence

Jonathan Spence


Jonathan D. Spence is a British-born historian and public intellectual specializing in Chinese history. He is a Professor Emeritus of Yale University where he was Sterling Professor of History from 1993 to 2008. A distinguished historian, prolific author, reviewer, and essayist, he has written numerous books on China. Including notably The Search for Modern China (1990); The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution 1895-1980  (1981); The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds (1998); and Mao Zedong (1999), The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (1984), and The Death of Woman Wang(1978). 

In May and June 2008 he gave the 60th anniversary Reith Lectures, broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Spence’smajor interest is modern China, and especially its relations with the West. Spence was named aMacArthur Fellow and has received ten honorary degrees and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Other honors include the C.M.G. (Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George) from Queen Elizabeth II.

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