Born in rural China in 1893, Mao Zedong led his country through "a long-drawn-out adventure in upheaval." In the process, he became one of the monumental figures of the twentieth century. He died in 1976, just as China was entering a détente with the United States. This excellent biography illuminates Mao's family life, his early years as a revolutionary, and his brief paradoxical flirtation with capitalism. Jonathan Spence, author of 11 books on Chinese history, provides both a panoramic portrait of China and a private portrait of the man at the center of so many historic events. Using sources not readily available, he penetrates the complex persona of Chairman Mao to provide an intimate view of a chilling enigma.

"Spence is the best known and most talented historian of China writing in English today . . . displaying an inventive ability to derive both meaning and narrative from episodes of Chinese history that are little known in the West."—Los Angeles Times