Sunday, May 20, 2007

Upper Canada Village

Mao, The Unknown Story

To-day is cool and breezy on a long week-end (the latter brought to you courtesy of Queen Victoria). Staying indoors and reading while overlooking the lake, procrastinating with respect to any early season swim, all of that seems in order. So far I am 200 pages into the 800 page Mao, the Unknown Story. What a tyrant. Worse than Stalin it would seem. Mao, ruthless schemer who bloodied his hands from a young age. The ultimate creative artist in inventing his own biography. He was purging rivals even before Stalin picked up a head of steam. Yet he was dependent on the good graces of Moscow too as he manipulated his way to power. Much of Mao's early favorable reputation in the West was thanks to Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China. That book air brushed out the blood soaked foundations of the Chinese Communist Party. And the other great myth which the Unknown Story lays bare? Mao's Communists were the main military opposition to the Japanese invasion of China. This book documents, in fact, Chiang Kai-shek stood up to the invaders, contrary to the common perception, whereas the Communists under Mao were non confrontational. He needed all his strength to inveigle within his own political party, not fight an invader. Mao let the Japanese fight Chiang all they wanted, allowing the invading front to pass then in its wake he set up Red Bases which engulfed large territories and millions of people. The Japanese had personnel enough to fight but not effectively occupy large areas so they left a vacuum. Master communist strategy as it turned out.
Source: Mao, The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, 2006.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lotus Land Blossom

Cherry Blossom on Canada's West Coast