A Life Journey of Mao Zedong - Essay Example

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The following essay touches upon the biography of Mao Zedong. Admittedly, in the first three chapters, Spence begins to describe Mao’s early years as a young revolutionary and portrays a young Mao as an idealist who worked with other young Chinese reformers as he pursued his political endeavors.
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Spence conveyed to the readers his in-depth but short story of Mao Zedong from his childhood in Hunan to founder of the People's Republic of China. This booklet gives adequate

knowledge about Mao's journey from a common villager and ended up as the great ruler of

China. While Spence provides historical events, his focus includes a Mao of flesh and blood , a

man with great visions but also committed mistakes.

In his first three chapters, Spence begins to describe Mao's early years as a young

revolutionary. He portrays a young Mao as an idealist who worked with other young Chinese

reformers as he pursued his political endeavors. Mao was born in 1893 in a farming village

called Shaoshan. He grew up there and gone to school while helping his father in the fields. Later

on, he did the bookkeeping of their family accounts and worked full time in the farm after he left

school. Mao was thirteen years old. Spence described Mao, "Mao at thirteen, like any other

healthy adolescent in China, was regarded as having moved from schoolboy status to adulthood".

(3) He got married at fourteen but his wife died after three years. Mao resumed his studies and

his knowledge widen as he read books, newspapers and journals. Mao began to feel the

awakening of his awareness in politics when he read about a pamphlet on "The dismemberment

of China" which covered such topics as Japan's colonization of Taiwan and Korea, the French

conquests in Indochina, and the British dominance over Burma.1 This was the start of Mao's

involvement in his search for the right direction. Spence provided just enough information to

make the reader understand the necessary background to understand the making of the man.

Mao was born when the Qing Dynasty was on the course of break down of its powers

over the ruling of China. For two hundred fifty years, Qing Dynasty ruled China with strictness.

But they were in a quandary as to how to hold on to their authority. The rulers were in a
1 Jonathan Spence, Mao Zedong (New York:Penguin Books, 1999) 6

difficulty over the peoples' unrest. For over thirty years the Qing rulers had been trying to

reorganize their land and naval forces, and to equip them with modern Western weapons but

Japan easily won in the war of 1894. (1) Foreign nations colonized the different parts of China.

Powerful nations like Japan, France, Germany and Great Britain were interested to dominate

China. Rebels tried to fight to regain Beijing in 1900, killing foreigners and Christian Chinese.

This brought about more foreign invasions. Authorities in the other parts of China beheaded

rioters and rebels. Qing Dynasty crushed down in October 1911 by the uprising of militant

rebels. Though Spence briefly skimmed historical events during the early years of Mao's life,

significant dates, events and persons were included.

The book is a brief but close up portrait of Mao Zedong from his childhood years to the

time when he ruled China. Spence combined history and storytelling on Mao's climb to power.

From a common villager without extraordinary talents to a learned man, Spence connected the

series of events that led Mao to the peak of his rule. An interesting biography to read and

understand this man with great vision of China's social and economic change. The book gives

knowledge as well as an insight to the development of such a man. Historical events may not be

complete but it cited important dates, events and persons. For the general readers, this book can

be a research guide to delve more deeper into the history of China. To the students of History

and Politics, a very illuminating work to better understand Mao, the man rather than Mao, the



Spence, Jonathan. Mao Zedong. New York: Penguin Books, 1999. Read More
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