Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949. Volume 3, Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930 (review)
- China Review International
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 1997
- pp. 238-243
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- Additional Information
238 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 the CCP and GMD perhaps explains the obscurity into which his name has faUen. "The sad and ironic fact is that Shen seems to have been kiUed because he was perceived as too radical and too reactionary at fhe same time by the same party." The study ofthose forces that shaped personal identity in China—the famüy, friendships, and place ofbirth—and whose influence carried over into the political and social networks ofrevolution is a difficult task. Many of the changes described in this book are, as the author demonstrates, the result ofcontingencies, not ideology. Shen's Ulness at a critical point is one such example. Proximate events, not evolving phUosophical systems, shaped the personal choices ofcountless individuals, and produced the ultimate shape ofthe revolution. To ensure fhat Shen Dingyi is "once named, always known" wiU continue to be a problematic undertaking for those concerned with his life. He stiU cannot be named wifh certainty—and fhis is the true mystery. Katherine K. Reist University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Katherine K. Reist is an EastAsianist, specializingin the history ofearly twentiethcentury China. Stuart R. Schräm, editor, and Nancy J. Hodes, associate editor. Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949. Volume 3, Establishment oftheJiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930. New York, Armonk, and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1995. lxxvi, 848 pp. Hardcover $125.00, isbn 156324 -439-x. IfMao Zedong's October 1, 1949, declaration at Tiananmen that fhe Chinese people had "stood up" was the climax ofhis revolutionary struggle, then his long march to power, in terms ofbuüding up a viable Red Army and running an effective government, started in earnest in Jinggangshan between 1927 and 1934, after the CCP-GMD split and the 1927 Nanchang Uprising and before the forced retreat— the Long March—to Yanan in 1934-1935. This volume of Mao's writings contains© 1997 bv U vers'tv valuable source materials on how Mao transformed himselffrom a Hunan peasofHawai 'iPressant-movement campaigner into a formidable guerriUa fighter, müitary strategist, land reformer, and efficient organizer and administrator ofthe fiangxi soviets. The book covers die four years during which Mao's thoughts and actions led to Reviews 239 his emergence from the shadow of Chen Duxiu, Qu Qiubai, and Li Lisan to mount his own peasant movements and military campaigns. The richness offhe materials coUected here under the editorship ofStuart Schräm is so overwhelming that after reviewing this and fhe previous volume 2, 1 am confident that both wül become indispensable as original sources for studying and understanding Maoism , Mao's revolution, and Chinese historyin the early twentieth century. Another important point worth mentioning at fhe outset is fhat ifMao was to develop into a credible Marxist-Maoist theorist in the Yanan caves in the subsequent decade, it was in this period in the Jiangxi-Hunan border region that Mao proved himselfto be a master practitioner ofrevolutionary ideas. This volume gives us insight into how he was able to put into practice "sinicized" theories ofMarx and Lenin. His sharp perception ofthe realities ofChinese society at that time and his effective adaptation ofhis ideas to those realities were remarkable. However, they also point up Mao's glaring contradictions, even failures, after 1949, especiaUy in the Great Leap Forward and fhe Cultural Revolution, when he seemed unable to perceive accurately the realities ofthe Chinese socioeconomic condition and adapt his ideas to the new realities accordingly. This is the great imponderable that we have to bear in mind when we read these rich historic works on Maoist theory and practice. Schräm terms Mao's post-liberation ideological putsches "rural utopianism" (p. xx). This is an interesting observation, but it faUs to explain the profound differences and contradictions between Mao as a peasant revolutionary and Mao as an "imperial" ruler of China. Clearly Mao's rural revolutionary perspectives were different from fhose of the urban CCP leadership, from Chen Duxiu to Wang Ming. His views on rural revolution, "going up the mountains," the peasant Red Army, guerrilla warfare, and land reform in the impoverished countryside often deviated from the policy lines of the CCP...