Name: Mao Zedong

Alive: 1893-1976

Bio: Founder of the People’s Republic of China 1949, Chairman Mao was the first chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1949 to his death in 1976, after successfully overthrowing the Nationalist Party and transforming China into a global political power. Mao was a very controversial figure, he improved education, health care and life expectancy throughout China, whilst also causing the deaths of up to 70 million people through starvation, forced labour and executions. He rapidly transformed China’s economy from largely agrarian to an industrial powerhouse through his ‘Great Leap Forward’ in 1957, which led to mass starvations and a death toll as high as 45 million, arguably making him the person responsible for the most deaths in the entirety of human history. he grew up in a peasant farming family and worked full time there when he was 13. Mao died from Parkinson’s.

Quotes:

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”

“Politics is a war without bloodshed, while war is a politics with bloodshed”

Popular Culture:

“The Founding of a Republic” – film, 2009

“The Founding of a Party” – film, 2011

“Revolution” – song by The Beatles, 1967 (“…but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao you ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow…”)

Further Reading:

1.     Delia Davin, Mao: A Very Short Introduction (2013)

2.     Mobo Gao, The Battle for China’s Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution (2008)

3.     Phillip Short, Mao: A life (2001)