Nicholas Kristof on Chang-Halliday’s Mao

Always one of my least favorite pundits (what did he do to deserve his own op-ed column??), Kristoff writes his own review of the book we’ve been discussing so much over here. Even more interesting is this attempt to fisk his review, which includes links to other fiskings.

Here’s a sample of Kristoff’s review:

Mao comes across as such a villain that he never really becomes three-dimensional. As readers, we recoil from him but don’t really understand him. He is presented as such a bumbling psychopath that it’s hard to comprehend how he bested all his rivals to lead China and emerge as one of the most worshipped figures of the last century.

Finally, there is Mao’s place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.

Perhaps the best comparison is with Qinshihuang, the first Qin emperor, who 2,200 years ago unified China, built much of the Great Wall, standardized weights and measures and created a common currency and legal system – but burned books and buried scholars alive. The Qin emperor was as savage and at times as insane as Mao – but his success in integrating and strengthening China laid the groundwork for the next dynasty, the Han, one of the golden eras of Chinese civilization. In the same way, I think, Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book – and yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.

It looks like anti-New York Times bloggers will have a field day with this. But Kristoff is asking for it; with that last sentence, he is playing with dynamite. (Be sure to check that last link; I despise Roger Simon, but his post and its comments are quite intriguing, even if he does refer to Deng as “Deng Tsaio Peng.”)

The Discussion: 57 Comments

Nicholas Kristoff is one of the few sane voices on this topic. Richard, I am sorry to say this, but your intolerance to those who disagree with you is like Stalin’s thought police. Am I free to think about Mao? Sure I am.

October 23, 2005 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

Everyone is free to express his or her own thoughts. I am free to reject their thoughts or embrace them. You agree with Kristoff, so I am like Stalin. You crack me up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Defend Mao all you want; it tells us a lot.

October 23, 2005 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

I am not defending Mao, but I think you should not be that rigid in your thinking. Mao was not like Stalin or Hitler. Mao was Mao.

October 23, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

You make it sound like I am alone in this comparison. It is fairly universal, and it is accurate. Not carbon copies, but both evil. Maybe Hitler was a perfect 10 and Mao was an 8.

Let’s forget about the Hitler analogy. Mao was Mao, as you say, and Mao was a sick, depraved, mass-murdering demon, the greatest blight in the entire history of China in every conceivable way, a few benevolent acts aside. I am as rigid in my thinking about Mao as I am about Saddam Hussein or Pol Pot. I did my homework and I came to my conclusions. Like Roger Simon, I used to be a big fan of Mao’s. But I learned and I grew and I read a lot of books. Just because my opinions of Mao do not conform to your own does not mean I am being rigid. But maybe you are making a projection about your own beliefs.

October 23, 2005 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

Richard,

On your comparision of Mao with Hitler, I would like to remind you that Mao continues to be an inspration of many oppressed people in many countries in the world.

October 23, 2005 @ 7:11 pm | Comment

Really? Like who?

October 23, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

Same with Che Guevara – a real inspiration to millions. Does that make him good? I see people wearing Madam Mao T-shirts. Does that make her good? Let us know your thoughts, Xing. Idi Amin was erecting ahuge statue of Hitler before he was thrown out. Does that make Hitler good?

October 23, 2005 @ 7:14 pm | Comment

“Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.”

Even I cringed at this. I don’t mind the defending of certain of Mao policies or certain aspects of his legacy (because unlike some I don’t believe it equates to defending his entire legacy, or defending Hitler)…but this sounds just…wrong. And inaccurate. I would say China’s awakening and economic prosperity is *in spite* of Mao’s doings. Just as I would argue that the Han dynasty succeeded in spite of the cruelty and mass destruction of the Qin. I think the reviewer is falling into a causal fallacy here.

I do agree with Fisk’s point about calling for a three-dimensional portrait of Mao, however. The problem with completely demonizing a dictator like Mao (no matter how justifiably) is that one is almost lessening the horror of that individual, by putting him beyond the reach of human comprehension. Sort of like…treating Macbeth as merely a bloodthirsty butcher instead of…Macbeth. It’s easier to portray him that way, but I’m not sure if it’s for the best.

Ack. I really need to read the book now. All these reviews are sending some conflicting messages.

October 23, 2005 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

Fisk?? Where the hell did I get that from? I meant Kristoff. God, I really need to read the NY Times more often.

October 23, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

Richard,

Mao is certainly popular in many countries in Africa and some countries on Soth America and Asia.

I am sure that you know what China was before the founding of the new China. The Chinese earned their repects when Mao’s army pushed the coalition force all the way from Chinese border to the 3-8-parellel line to an standstill. Most Chinese look at Mao’s lagency with what he did before the cultural revolution in mind.

October 23, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

Sorry for the Hitler analogies, but they are appropriate: If Hitler had died in 1938, he would have been remembered as one of the greatest success stories in the history of international leadership. Unfortunately, we don’t judge a man by a portion of their record, but the whole. And if you want to only judge Mao by things he did before the CR, don’t forget about that pesky little footnote known as the great Leap Forwards. Oops! 30 million peasants slowly starved to death. Oh well, accidents do happen.

October 23, 2005 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

Richard,

That’s fair. Of course, I didn’t forget the horrific things that Mao did. My family suffered for many years under Mao’s cultural revolution.

October 23, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

Richard,

I have no idea of the number of people died, directly and indirectly, from Mao’s policy. I learned the number 30 millions many times in the western media. Chang seems to say 70 millions in the book. Or someone else may say over 100 millions. Which number should one trust? I guess no one really knows (except maybe the Chinese authority). I am more willing to believe it if some one says many millions.

If I want to have better understanding of Mao and the cultural revolution, I would perfer to read books written by western scholars in the academic field (and I did). These people often care less about how many books they can sell.

October 23, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

xing, if you read my other posts, I am in agreement with you about the possibility the book contains hype. I don’t know, because I haven’t read it, but based on what i’ve read i have my suspicions. I am not arguing about that; we are in agreement.

What I will argue about is whether it would make Mao any less evil if the number was 23 million, 30 million or 70 million. Once you get into numbers like those, the digits you place in front of the word “million” become rather meaningless. To repeat Stalin’s over-quoted but brilliant observation, “Kill one man and it’s murder. Kill a million men and it’s a statistic.”

October 23, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Richard,

Since the number of deaths is big, the exact number doesn’t change the horrific things of Mao’s policy. But I will certainly question the authors’ credibility if it is a hype.

October 23, 2005 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

Richard, I agree with you, to a point, about the whole 30-70-100 million debate. But still, that “once the death toll goes over a million, it’s pretty much all the same” stance seems a little arbitrary and glib.

Large numbers are NOT rendered meaningless relative to each other. Symbolically they might be, but quantitatively the scope of devastation between 30 million and 70 million is just not the same.

Which is why I think that questioning the statistical veracity in Chang-Halliday’s findings still does matter. Not towards lessening Mao’s evil (because, dude, no matter what Mao’s still in whatever circle is below the ninth of Dante’s hell), but towards accurately determining the magnitude of the damage of his legacy to Chinese history.

October 23, 2005 @ 9:53 pm | Comment

Which is why I think that questioning the statistical veracity in Chang-Halliday’s findings still does matter.

Totally agree. This is why I have raised my concerns about what I’ve read so far from the critics. I’ll see for myself; I’m buying the book this week.

October 23, 2005 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

“Mao is certainly popular in many countries in Africa and some countries on Soth America and Asia.”

Here’s a question to ask yourself Xing. Is mao popular in those countries, or is Mao used as a convenient crutch for dictators in those countries who are seeking for some credibility for their regimes. I really doubt most Zimbabweans give a fig about Mao. But Mugabe might……

“I am sure that you know what China was before the founding of the new China. The Chinese earned their repects when Mao’s army pushed the coalition force all the way from Chinese border.”

No, Xing you are incorrect. The Chinese started to earn respect after Deng’s economic reforms started to take effect. …after the death of Mao. They started to earn respect when they started making other people money. And currently, they maintain that respect through money. Mao had nothing to do with it.

October 23, 2005 @ 11:08 pm | Comment

nausicaa is ALMOST correct about Mao in Hell.

But he’s not “below the Ninth Circle.”

Mao is in the Second Ring (“Anentora”) of the Ninth Circle, the place for “Traitors to their Countries.”

Inferno: 23:109-111:
“And now”, I said (to Mao), “you traitor bent on evil,
I do not need your talk,
for I shall carry
true news of you, and that will
bring you shame.”

(translation by Allen Mandelbaum)

October 24, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

PS, oops, sorry, that was Canto 32 of the Inferno, NOT 23 (as I wrote)

October 24, 2005 @ 12:28 am | Comment

the difference between Mao and Hitler? Hitler did not get 30 years of post-mortem institutionalized, national and worldwide rehabilitation through propaganda in history books. Tight control of press and speech really does work! Most Chinese people lost a relative in the great famine or cultural revolution, but few know the causes or impact of Mao’s own hand.
Kristoff is a patsy.

October 24, 2005 @ 1:43 am | Comment

Xing, Reference Mao being “popular” in certain South American countries. Having lived in and travelled that region extensively for 29 years, I think that I can safely say that there is only one country where Mao became a role model for anyone, and this was Peru. More specifically, the bloodiest group of insurgents that South America has ever known, Sendero Luminoso, whose leader “Presidente Gonzalo” modelled himself on Mao. A few extreme leftists in the Nicaraguan, Salvadorean, and Colombian insurgencies studied and espoused Mao’s model for guerrilla warfare, but all of those groups were eclipsed by leftists espousing Guevara’s “foco” theories. You can see Mao buttons among some Chinese immigrants in Panama, but even there the majority of “Panachinos” prefer Chiang Kai Shek to Mao. The irony here is that Che Guevara’s model for guerrilla warfare virtually guarantees extermination, while Mao really knew what he was writing about. Yet it is telling that the SL chose to adopt his bloodthirsty ruthlessness as well as his strategy. Some legacy!

October 24, 2005 @ 2:10 am | Comment

What’s wrong with Kristoff, Richard? I always enjoyed his articles, and his book China Wakes while a bit simplistic has proved tremendously useful in my classes and a genuine eye-opener.
As for the land reform and emancipation points he raises, Chang does go into them and explain how they were an indirect result to his evil policies.

October 24, 2005 @ 2:30 am | Comment

As for Kristof’s claim that ” Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber” which is his main argument on the tyrant’s behalf, I would counter that this only occurred until Mao was safely entombed and reform counter to Maoist thought took place.

October 24, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

Funny, yesterday I was talking to an Overseas Chinese who lived through the Cultural Revolution. He talked of the ugly politics of survival of the time. Many returned Overseas Chinese died because they didn’t know how to survive in CR China.

Anyway, without prompting, he told me that he believed Mao was a good man who did great things for China.

Mao’s problem was that he was a fighter, not an administrator. So when his lieutenants started their political struggles, devoting 70% of their time to destroying their colleagues, 30% to actual work, and that went right down the echelons to the grass roots level, that wasn’t Mao’s fault.

I found it an interesting point of view. But in China you try not to argue back too much.

October 24, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

I’ve lost all my respect for Kristof. I really appreciated his coverage of the arrest of Zhao Yan and other subjects, but then he drops these idiotic bombshells like the one keir just cited. It’s unforgivable. And he does this a lot.

October 24, 2005 @ 2:41 am | Comment

OK, I understand. But still, he is writing for the NY Times where his editors don’t want to risk alienating and offending their readership or sponsors unlike this site.
But if he does throw in ridiculous and ill-thought out claims, i would question his work.

October 24, 2005 @ 3:44 am | Comment

Still Venerated (Updated)

Nicolas D. Kristof concludes after reviewing Jung Chang’s and Jon Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story: I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But M…

October 24, 2005 @ 5:17 am | Comment

if we need a big Chinese figure, instead of worshipping a monster, why not Sun Yat-sen or Kang Youwei?

http://www.infidelworld.net/icblog/archives/reviews/index.php#000404

October 24, 2005 @ 5:20 am | Comment

‘Laid the groundwork?’ Please! How stupid do you have to be to look at China’s economic recovery FROM MAO’S POLICIES and think ‘Well done, that man!’ Never mind the examples of Taiwan and South Korea, which, while not loveable governments themselves, managed to be where China is now (on a smaller scale) in the 1970s or so, without feeling the need to kill tens of millions en route.

October 24, 2005 @ 6:27 am | Comment

I once expressed a dissident opinion about China and Richard turned up at 3 AM in a Black Maria and dragged me away to a gulag for twenty-five years.

J.

October 24, 2005 @ 6:28 am | Comment

James:

What, it happened to you too?

So THAT’S who was following me around in Moscow! Lucky for me I run faster than Richard and his gang of goons!

Now, I also want to say that I disagree with what Richard said about Chinese tourists in…..ARKHPH!
MMMM! MMMPH! (gagged, being dragged away in a hammerlock, shoved into a Zhiguli……)

October 24, 2005 @ 7:37 am | Comment

Mao has done a lot of bad things. I am sure there are a lot of truth in Chang’s book. But Chang’s view is extremist. She was trying to even negate the Long March, saying that CKS purposedly step aside from Red Army’s route, and that some of the battles didn’t even happen.

These are plain lies. There is really no need to negate Mao’s talent in guerilla warfare, if showing the dark side is what she wants.

I think that hurts Chang’s credibility, of the whole book.

see BBC’s interview with Chang
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/progs/05/hardtalk/chang24jun.ram

or this recap in Chinese on the flaws
http://web.wenxuecity.com/BBSView.php?SubID=maotalk&MsgID=90051

October 24, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

“Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.”

Oh dear God! That one really was the straw (or perhaps I should say telegraph pole) that broke the camel’s back for me.

Is this guy on the whacky-backy or something? Mao set China back at least 10-15 years due to the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Given that China did not start to throw Maosim away until the 1980s, that figure may be closer to 20 years.

I just don’t know what to say other than what a moron……

I think Roger Simon’s bit sums things up quite well:

“Kristofโ€™s paying audience doesnโ€™t want to believe that Mao was all bad. After all, many of them marched or chanted in his behalf. I know this full well, because I was one of them. I even went to China in the Seventies and wore, once upon a time, a Mao cap. Of course I was one of Leninโ€™s โ€˜useful idiots.โ€™ So is Kristof.โ€”

October 24, 2005 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

Let’s look at this from a legal standpoint. If Mao had been in a British court, who’s remit was to assess his post-1949 rule of China, his liberation of women, etc (that may well have happened under KMT rule anyway) would have been mitigating factors only. He would still have been found “guilty” and sentanced to life imprisonment – death if it had been in Mao’s day.

October 24, 2005 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

The irony in talking about Mao and women’s emancipation is that it was also his reckless promotion of population growth that in part facilitated the need for the one child policy, which as we all know led to the killing of female infants and the existance of inumerable girl orphans across China.

Ah, what a tangled web we weave…

Anyway, the point is not whether Mao was guilty, a lot guilty, or a little guilty. He most definitely was guilty, period. But what Chang and her hubby seems to be doing (again, haven’t read the book, so I could well be wrong) is systematically tearing down EVERYTHING about his legacy. EVERYTHING about him was negative. Not just the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, which are a given, but also his involvement in the Korean War, the civil war, the Sino-Japanese war, etc. Everything seems to be vilified and/or discredited.

I mean, I’m sure it must have very carthartic for Jung Chang to tear the ghost of Mao a new one, but if that’s really the case with the book – that in it she presents Mao as merely being a monumental psycho who lied and cheated and bullied his talentless ass all the way the top, who left no bright spots in his legacy of dark – then no matter how well-documented or researched it is, I simply cannot find it fully credible.

Even Hitler, monstrous though the man was, did some (though laughably insignificant in the greater scheme of things) good in his lifetime. No one man, dictator or not, can be pure, unadulterated evil in EACH and EVERY of his moments. And, in the end, Mao (and Pol Pot and Stalin and Hitler…) were still men. Evil, monstrous men, yes, but men. So it behooves biographers and scholars to humanize instead of conveniently demonizing them. And yes, there’s a fine line between humanizing and sympathizing, but still, it needs to be done…

October 24, 2005 @ 4:40 pm | Comment

Kristof’s comments are idiotic, and Mao was a mass murdering bastard, but that doesn’t take away from the weaknesses of the book.

‘Chinese propaganda of the 1950s and 1960s constantly portrays Mao as dining on simple peasant food. In fact, Soviet archives show that Mao ate a regular diet of loveable kittens. The kittens were ordered from Moscow at discount prices, and sent to Mao’s kitchen, where they were undoubtedly brutally tortured – most likely by Mao himself – before being prepared by some of China’s finest chefs. We cannot be certain what other purposes Mao used the kittens for, but private sources suggest that he may well have regularly played tennis with the smallest and cutest kittens used as substitutes for balls. Although portrayed as a strong tennis player in posters, Mao was in fact weakened by his years of sexual debauchery and heroin use, and would only play against six-year old Hunanese girls.’

[The Chinese did, in fact, serve a Cantonese dish called ‘Dragon Eating A Tiger’ at a banquet for one of Khruschev’s visits to China – consisting of a snake swallowing a cat. The Russian secretaries threw up when they saw it, poor things. It was not the most successful of diplomatic visits.]

October 24, 2005 @ 6:07 pm | Comment

where did you hear that snake/cat story? are you really believing in this? ๐Ÿ™‚

October 24, 2005 @ 9:39 pm | Comment

ohh…you mean these are from the book?

sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

October 24, 2005 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

Ha! That parody’s hilarious.

Well, I guess now we can add “kitty-eater” to the list of Mao’s wrongs. As for what other things he was doing with those kittens, besides using them for tennis balls…one can indeed only imagine. *cues bow-chika-bow-bow music* >:-)

October 25, 2005 @ 1:02 am | Comment

nausicaa

It’s probably a good idea to read the book yourself. There’s nothing worse than reading someone else’s disappointment – better to make your own observations.

After all, perhaps Chang & Halliday’s book is only 30% bad and 70% good! ๐Ÿ˜‰

October 25, 2005 @ 3:30 am | Comment

The snake/cat story in brackets really is true (but not the kittens, *cough*)- it’s in William Taubman’s excellent biography of Khrushchev, and is from the Russian diplomatic records. It was a disastrous visit all round; Mao and Khrushchev *hated* each other – partially because Mao thought Khrushchev had betrayed Stalin’s legacy.

There are some really interesting things in the Chang book, but I think the impact of it is weakened by –

a) an overdetermination to blame *everything* on Mao.
b) an unwillingness to consider that he might have ever done anything good
c) sweeping statements without qualification
d) a failure to examine cultural and political background
e) weak writing

But it’s still worth reading.

October 25, 2005 @ 3:53 am | Comment

And it really is a Cantonese dish – though normally they’d chop up the snake and cat and put them in a stew, rather than have it as a centerpiece.

October 25, 2005 @ 3:56 am | Comment

QN:

If this book was about Hitler (or even Stalin), would people be complaining as much?

I don’t think so. For some reason, there still seems to be the same attachment to Mao as there was once to Stalin – and some people do still admire Stalin -_-

What is this fuelled by? Is this because of the manipulation of Chinese education policy, once (& present) global Socialists that emotionally and politically invested in Mao, or both?

October 25, 2005 @ 11:30 am | Comment

Though of course there is a lot of valid concern from true scholars that want to be able to criticise Mao without having people running around screaming blue murder!

October 25, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Very few people are criticising the book out of a fondness for Mao; they’re criticising it for sloppy scholarship, poor construction, and banal writing. I’ve seen lives of Hitler and Stalin ripped apart on those grounds.

October 25, 2005 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

There is a catnonese dish called dragon-tiger-phoenix.

It is basically a soup of snake/cat/chicken.

I have never heard of one that has snake eating cat. I am still wondering about the credibility of the story/source.

In the wild, cats are very agile. the snake could eat a chicken easily, but it would be extremely diffciult for it to spew venom or strangle a cat.

p.s. i agree with james’ comment on the book.

October 25, 2005 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

James,

I don’t know. The reviews I’ve seen seem to generally fall quite heavily on one side or the other. Only a few, like the Independent from a while back, are really partisan in as far as they have good and bad things to say.

It depends on what one has come across, to be quite honest.

October 25, 2005 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

“What is this fuelled by? Is this because of the manipulation of Chinese education policy, once (& present) global Socialists that emotionally and politically invested in Mao, or both?”

Thanks. To paraphrase, those of us who criticize Mao’s portrayal in the book are either 1) brainwashed 2) socialists, or 3) brainwashed socialists.

Personally, I would also decry a one-dimensional portrayal of Hitler. Biographies with essentially only one point to make (that either the subject was Mother Theresa or Satan’s handmaiden) make for powerful, but ultimately unsatisfying reads.

Also, you have to realize that Mao, for all his monstrous doings, is also George Washington for us. How would YOU feel (assuming you’re American) if an American author systemically destroyed EVERYTHING about the character and legacy of the founder of your nation? There’s emotional biases involved here, but don’t pin it on us being brainwashed socialists.

October 25, 2005 @ 6:11 pm | Comment

Edited: either George Washington or Lincoln. Depending on your view of Sun Yat-sen.

October 25, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

Xing said: “I am sure that you know what China was before the founding of the new China. The Chinese earned their repects when Mao’s army pushed the coalition force all the way from Chinese border to the 3-8-parellel line to an standstill.”

Two things I see in your statement, Xing. First is the assumption that the rest of the world only respects China due to military power – true to a degree, but people don’t respect a country ONLY because of military power.

Second, the implication of “I am sure that you know what China was before the founding of the new China”. That sentence speaks volumes – to raise up Mao and New China, it is necessary to denigrate Chinese history and traditional culture. Mainlanders are always sure you know “what China was” – on the Mainland that’s a synonym for “weak”. That’s not healthy, celebrating the present by denigrating the past.

October 25, 2005 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

“Second, the implication of “I am sure that you know what China was before the founding of the new China”. That sentence speaks volumes – to raise up Mao and New China, it is necessary to denigrate Chinese history and traditional culture. Mainlanders are always sure you know “what China was” – on the Mainland that’s a synonym for “weak”. That’s not healthy, celebrating the present by denigrating the past”

I think you may be distorting Xing’s words. I highly doubt she/he’s denigrating the entirety of China’s past (now why would a mainlander do that? ๐Ÿ˜‰ After all, China had enjoyed halcyon days of glory during the Han and the Tang very much comparable to contemporary empires in the West.) She/he’s likely referring only to turn-of-the-century China, rotted through with decay and an easy target for the abuse of the Western powers.

October 25, 2005 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

And Moussolini made the trains run on time.

October 26, 2005 @ 1:18 am | Comment

nausicaa

Did you even bother to read the subsequent post after the one you quoted? I did point out that there are people with valid criticisms because I thought that you might take it the wrong way. Waste of time…

And by the way I’m not an American. There are people in the world that live in a democracy and hate Mao that aren’t from the US. I’m British, thanks a lot.

But, hey, perhaps you think we’re just the US 51st state………

October 26, 2005 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

nausicaa

Well Hitler was the Germans’ George Washington for many years – and they didn’t just pretend it, they believed it.

But in any case, most of what I would call the “irrational” or biased criticism of the book is actually coming from non-Chinese. I have not actually come across a single review of it by a PRC Chinese, given that the book is banned there! So don’t jump to conclusions – I was referring to Western people commenting upon it.

I would actually like it if Chinese people could read her books and then make up their own minds on them. But they can’t thanks to the CCP.

October 26, 2005 @ 2:28 pm | Comment

“Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.”

Five centuries of slumber? That’s an, if you’ll pardon the phrase, Orientalist stereotype. Throughout most of those five centuries China’s economy was expanding and becoming more commercialized. It’s been estimated that as late as the eighteenth century, the average standard of living was equal or better in China than in Europe. It was only the Industrial Revolution that enabled Europe to leap ahead of China.

October 30, 2005 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

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