Here in time for Nixon's visit is this responsible, undemanding biography of Chairman Mao which personalizes and updates the story of The Rise of Red China told by Goldston in 1967. As demonstrated by a wealth of anecdotes -- about Mao's readiness to volunteer for hazardous duty, his fatherly concern for his young orderly on the Long March, etc. -- Archer clearly admires the self-sacrifice and political acumen which characterized the Chairman's youth. But he is far from uncritical -- attributing Mao's parochialism partly to his long retreat in Yenan, tracing the growth of Maoist cult of personality and outlining the failures of the Great Leap Forward and the Hundred Flowers campaign. Of necessity this is a portrait of the public man, except for the few private conversations passed on by Malraux, Robert Payne and Jules Roy, but Archer's value lies in his ability to assess Mao's strengths and weaknesses unemotionally. Even Robert Payne's popular adult biography couches similar judgments in more biased language -- seeing Mao as lazy where Archer deems him ""provincial"" and referring darkly to ""charisma"" whereas Archer frankly recognizes that Mao's support rests in his ability to feed the people. This more judicious approach is synchronized with the recent thaw in American attitudes.