No mercy for Mao

August 19, 2005

It is strange that Delia Davin reviewing Mao: The Unknown Story (August 12) should appear not to wish to seem an apologist for Mao, because this is how she comes across in her attack on the authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.

Davin says the book is "much-hyped" (not the authors'

responsibility) and "one-sided" (not in its multifarious presentation of foreign policy complexities), an "unrelenting demonisation" (surely Mao's fault) and "totally negative". This last charge is fatuous as it concerns one who was responsible for killing up to 70 million of his own people in a famine. Yet Mao is said by her to have "doubled" life expectancy - no doubt, if you survived.

Davin's idea of balance is to assert that Mao aimed to make China a great power, omitting the fact that he would have sacrificed 300 million of his own people in nuclear war for this end. But, on balance, there would still have been plenty of Chinese.

Mao was devious and self-interested and willing to sacrifice anyone to suit his ultimate focus - himself.

Nigel Probert

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