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Posted: 09 October 2007

Mao biographer, Jung Chang at UCD

Over 1,000 people came to UCD’s O’Reilly Hall on Monday 08 October 2007 to hear the author of Wild Swans, Jung Chang speak about her latest work: Mao - The Untold Story.

Chang spoke passionately about what she believed to be the nature and motivations behind Mao the man and Mao the ruler. In her work, co-authored by her historian husband Jon Halliday, Chang paints a picture of Mao as one of the greatest monsters of the 20th century - equating him to rulers like Hitler and Stalin. According to Chang, Chairman Mao used power and fear to enforce his will on the party and on the mass population under his rule.

In her lecture, Chang outlined examples of Mao’s willingness to sacrifice the Chinese people in his reach for superpower status: the use of produce from local peasants to support his armed forces in the 1920s and early 30s; the sacrifice of thousands of troops in futile military diversions; the extension of the Korean War; and the extraction of the livelihoods of China’s peasants to meet the needs of industry, urban populations and the advancement of nuclear weapons.

Following the public lecture, Chang engaged in a Questions and Answers session with members of the audience. The questions ranged from the accuracy of the facts and figures published in the book, to the lifting of the ban on her books in China, to the significance of the removal of the portrait of Mao from Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

“I decided to write about Mao because I was fascinated by this man, who dominated my life in China, and who devastated the lives of my fellow countrymen – a quarter of the world’s population,” said Chang.

Jung Chang is best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, which sold over 10 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1991 but is still banned in mainland China. The public lecture at UCD, Belfield, was hosted by the UCD Law Society and admission was free.

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Mao biographer, Jung Chang at UCD