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Mao Zedong was a giant of 20th century history. In this Very Short Introduction, Delia Davin provides an account of Mao the man. From his childhood as a peasant to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth, she considers the major events in his life, his revolutionary writing, and his utopian dreams that culminated in the Cultural Revolution.
Delia Davin taught at Leeds University from 1988 until her retirement in 2004, where she is now emeritus professor of Chinese Studies. Her research interests were focussed on women and gender issues in China and she is the author of Womanwork, Women and the Party in Revolutionary China (OUP, 1976). She wrote some of the earliest studies of the single child policy in China and with other colleagues she translated and edited Chinese Lives, an oral history of contemporary China (Penguin, 1989). Her abiding interest in Mao Zedong and the history of Maoist China was inspired by her experience of living in Beijing.