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About the book
  • Published: 1 September 2009
  • ISBN: 9780099507376
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 992
  • RRP: $29.99

Mao: The Unknown Story




The most authoritative life of Mao ever written, by the bestselling author of Wild Swans and her husband

Jung Chang's Wild Swans was an extraordinary bestseller throughout the world, selling more than 10 million copies and reaching a wider readership than any other book about China. Now she and her husband Jon Halliday have written a groundbreaking biography of Mao Tse-tung.

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.

  • Pub date: 1 September 2009
  • ISBN: 9780099507376
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 992
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Authors

Jung Chang

Jung Chang is the internationally bestselling author of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China; Mao: The Unknown Story (with Jon Halliday); and Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine who Launched Modern China. Her books have been translated into over 40 languages and sold more than 15 million copies outside Mainland China where they are banned. She was born in China in 1952, and came to Britain in 1978. She lives in London.

Jon Halliday

Jung Chang was born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China, in 1952. She was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen and then worked as a peasant, a 'barefoot doctor', a steelworker and an electrician before becoming an English-language student and, later, an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a PhD in Linguistics in 1982 - the first person from the People's Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British university. Her award-winning book, Wild Swans, was published in 1991.

Jon Halliday is a former Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King's College, University of London. He has written or edited eight previous books.


Praise for Mao: The Unknown Story

“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 Montefiore, Sunday Times

“What Chang and Halliday have done is immense and surpasses, as a biography, all that has gone before”

Jonathan Mirsky, Independent

“The detail and documentation are awesome. The story that they tell, mesmerising in it's 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 Walden, Daily Mail

“This is a bombshell of a book”

Chris Patten, The Times

“This book's strength is [Chang and Halliday's] understanding of the importance of bringing the human, or inhuman, alive in Mao's story. This, they do brilliantly”

Richard McGregor, Financial Times


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