CHAIRMAN MAO TALKS TO THE PEOPLE: Talks and Letters 1956-1971 by Stuart -- Ed. Schram

CHAIRMAN MAO TALKS TO THE PEOPLE: Talks and Letters 1956-1971

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Earthy,"" the editor calls this collection of speeches and other verbalizations by the Chairman, not ""authorized"" but not really unofficial either. The speeches give rise to speculation about Mao's endless tautologies (""There are always two sides, not one only"" and ""three kinds of words,"" correct, incorrect and in between). Such dialectical ramblings, one concludes, are intended to stultify the audience into agreement. There is content here to be decoded, especially Mao's banal but far from empty overview of bureaucratic tropisms and economic turns. Even during the Cultural Revolution, he admonishes his cadre to relax. Don't be fanatical in purging opponents: excessive severity is ""like lifting a rock and dropping it on our own feet."" ""The aim is to make people unafraid in their hearts and let them dare to express their opinions."" Then, the reader infers, these bureaucrats will know where they stand among factions and opponents who, if repressed, may resort to outright ""plotting and conspiracy."" (It also saves the money Stalin spent on spies.) In short, ""be sincere and open"" and let your enemies imitate you. By turns Mao plays the pragmatic, patriotic peasant unimpressed by Western thought (though invincibly devoted to Benjamin Franklin) and the jovial iconoclast (""There's nothing worth looking at in the People's Daily,"" he slyly tells his nephew for world publication, while admonishing him to learn to ride horseback). Above all, in every sense of the phrase, Mao remains the canny centrist.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1974
Publisher: Pantheon