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Mao Zedong

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More murderous than Hitler, more powerful than Stalin, in the battle of the Communist leaders Mao Zedong trumps all. Born into a comfortable peasant family, Mao would rise up to become China’s great leader. After leading the communists away from Kuomintang rule, he set out to modernize China, but the results of this audacious move were horrific. He rebounded from his failures time and again, and used his influence to eliminate his enemies and to purge China of its old ways. Mao saw a brighter future for China, but it was not within his grasp; his Cultural Revolution was not as successful as he had wanted it to be. Liberator, oppressor, revolutionary, Mao Zedong was the greatest emancipator in China’s history, as his reforms and actions changed the history of China and of the wider world.

Mao Zedong was born in 1893, into a China that was suffering greatly. The Qing Dynasty was spiraling into disaster, but while most of China’s peasants were suffering Mao’s own peasant family was doing quite well. Growing increasingly restless, Mao left home at age 17 to study and in 1918 he graduated to become a teacher. He travelled to Beijing, but found there to be little work for teachers. Instead he began working at a university library and reading Marxist literature. It was the time of the Russian Revolution and Mao was eager and interested in politics. In 1921 he became a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China’s ruling party at the time was the Kuomintang (KMT). They had toppled the Qing emperor, but they were unable to truly unite the country. In 1923, the KMT and the CCP briefly allied to defeat the warlords in Northern China, but this was not an alliance that we meant to last; the KMT leader Chia...

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The British Broadcasting Corporation. “Mao Zedong.” BBC. Accessed November 27, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/mao_zedong.shtml.

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