‘The real flesh-and-blood Mao revealed in
these uncensored utterances,Rabelaisian in speech and forthright in his criticism both of himself and of others, is not only more believable, but far more impressive, than the plaster saint worshipped by some of his self-appointed disciples.
Stuart Schram, the foremost Western authority on modern China and Mao Tse-tung, has compiled a unique volume of Mao’s speeches,letters and talks, many of which have never been translated before, and most of which have not been widely available in the West until now.They are of the first importance, from three perspectives, for our understanding of modern China: as the expression of Mao’s thinking on political, economic and philosophical problems:as vital historical documents, and as lively and entertaining prose giving a vivid picture of one of the most remarkable personalities of our time.The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Tse-tung in 1966 was marked by many surprising develop ments. One of the most unexpected repercussions, and perhaps not the least significant, was the divulgence of complete or partial texts of many statements and directives by Mao, and by other leading figures in the Chinese Communist Party, hitherto known only within a restricted circle. The bulk of these materials dates from the period since the establishment of the Chinese People’s Republic in 1949, though some go back to the anti Japanese War of 1937-45, or even to the 1920s. A few such items or fragments, previously treated as confidential, were officially published in China during the Cultural Revolution.Most of them, however, appeared only in the tabloids and other periodicals and documentary collections put out by the various“Red Guard’ and ‘Revolutionary Rebel’ organizations which flourished in the years 1966-9. It is from sources of this kind that I have selected the texts translated in this volume.*There are some who have doubts as to the propriety of publishing documents such as these, or indeed of reproducing any
versions of Mao’s writings not authorized by the Chairman himself. For the most part, the speeches and writings which
appear here are not generally accessible within China, and there are grounds for believing that Mao and the Chinese authorities would rather foreigners did not read them either.