The Life of Mao Zedong

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Alyssa Franco

Mao Zedong is considered to be one of the most controversial political leaders of the twentieth century. He has been known both as a savior and a tyrant to the Chinese people. From his strategic success of the Long March, to his humiliating failure of the Great Leap Forward, to the Cultural Revolution that shocked the country and took countless lives, Mao has significantly influenced the result of what China is today. From humble origins, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power, unifying with an iron fist a vast country torn apart by years of weak leadership, imperialism, and war. This astute and insightful account by Jonathan D. Spence brings to life this modern-day ruler and the tumultuous era that Mao Zedong did so much to shape. Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893 in Shaoshan village in Hunan. He experienced a middle peasant upbringing that was “rooted in long-standing rural Chinese patterns of expectation and behavior” (Mao, 10). Mao went to Shaoshan village school where he learned the customary Chinese curriculum as well as studied the “time-honored texts from the Confucian canon” (Mao, 11). At this time in his childhood, the whole country could foresee the fall of the previous dynasty, the Qing. Mao studied to be a teacher at The First Provincial Normal School, in Changsha, which influenced his future thinking and beliefs. He believed that the Chinese way of thinking needed reform, therefore fixated on younger people and peasants to build his political career. In 1912 Mao decided to go to Wuhan. For five years he studied and received an education in academics, as well as politics. When Mao graduated in 1918, he was a political writer with a notable following. He had studied Marxism and other communist ideas and by 1919 considered himself to be a Marxist. For several years Mao wrote on his views and even began establishing groups that shared the same political opinions as he did. Mao had organized a group of Communists in Changsha...
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