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  • Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings 1912-1949. Volume 4, The Rise and Fall of the Chinese Soviet Republic: 1931-1934
  • Peter O. Hefron (bio)
Stuart R. Schram, editor, Nancy J. Hodes, associate editor, Stephen C. Averill , guest associate editor. Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings 1912-1949. Volume 4, The Rise and Fall of the Chinese Soviet Republic: 1931-1934. An East Gate Book. Armonk and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1997. civ, 1, 006 pp. Hardcover $150.00, ISBN 1-56324-891-3.

Volume 4 of Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings 1912-1949, edited by Stuart Schram and Nancy Hodes, is devoted to Mao's writings from 1931 through 1934. These documents coincide with the rise and fall of the Chinese Soviet Republic (CSR) in Jiangxi Province. They also highlight Mao's role as head of the CSR's executive branch during most of this period as well as his changing fortunes as a leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and of the Red Army.

Although the Chinese government's Foreign Languages Press includes only four documents from the CSR era in its official Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung , the Schram-Hodes collection reprints almost two hundred writings plus an appendix with forty contemporary laws and resolutions from the CSR and the CCP. This appendix includes, among other documents, labor laws, election laws, laws establishing the three branches of the CSR government, and regulations on marriage and land reform. A number of these Maoist writings and official laws are available in English translation here for the first time.

A short introductory essay to the entire 1912-1949 series is supplemented by a comprehensive analytical essay on the CSR era and by numerous explanatory notes about the documents authored by Dr. Stephen Averill of Michigan State University. Averill is a specialist on the political and social history of the early Chinese Communist Revolution, especially the development of the rural revolution in Jiangxi. The collection in volume 4 runs the gamut from documents personally written by Mao to those he officially issued based on his various Party, state, and military positions. Some are issued just in his name, others with multiple signatories. In numerous cases, these latter documents represented a consensus decision, but did not necessarily reflect Mao's personal views. Therefore, some of these documents include open or veiled criticisms of Mao's military strategy, his class analysis of the peasantry, or his land-reform policies. Other writings personally penned by Mao criticize official CCP/CSR policies issued by his opponents, the Returned Students. Thus, Averill's essay and notes are particularly useful to differentiate what Mao believed from what he merely countenanced. Mao's need to compromise his true feelings to retain his official CCP and CSR positions and his influence undoubtedly helps to explain the paucity of documents for the CSR era in the Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung. What was a realistic [End Page 539] Maoist strategy of accommodation in the 1930s might be used by Mao's CCP opponents after 1949 .

Among the writings included in volume 4 are discourses and debates over the appropriate military strategies needed to defeat the second through fifth Encirclement Campaigns of the Nationalist Guomindang (GMD) forces. Others show a sparring over proper class analysis of the peasantry, especially as it relates to land reform, eligibility for Soviet Committee membership, and the correct determinants of the rich peasantry.

Some writings offer detailed discussions about correct methods for public propaganda and mass mobilization campaigns. The establishment and organization of the CSR and its First and Second National Congresses of Soviet Deputies in November 1931 and in December 1933, respectively, also produced extensive documentation.

Among the most fascinating writings are those that trace the evolution of the CCP/CSR's response to Japanese aggression in Manchuria and then in China to the Great Wall. After the September 1931 Manchurian Incident, the CCP/CSR railed against Chiang Kai-shek's inept response, but did little else. After continued Japanese aggression, the CSR in April 1932 gratuitously declared war on Japan despite being physically separated from Manchuria by a large swath of GMD-held territory. The...


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