The three giants of Modern China

Mao, Zhou and Deng are the three giants of Chinese modern history.

Mao is the oldest born in 1893 in Shaoshan, Hunan. Zhou in 1898 in Huai’an, Jiangsu. Deng in 1904 in Paifang, Sichuan.

Mao was born to a peasant family. He studied up to teacher student college level and graduated. He never went to France.

Zhou was born into a cultured family. Both his paternal and maternal grandparents were magistrates. He was raised exposed to Chinese classics like Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Journey to the West.

Deng was born to a small landlord family. He had a proper education. His dad sent him to France to further his education in 1920.

Zhou coincidentally also sailed to France in 1920. But his reason was more specific. Zhou wrote to his cousin from Europe ” he was there to understand how European societies operated and the thinking of those who sought to change them.” {p19 Zhou by Dillon, 2020 Ed}

Zhou died on 8 Jan 1976. He was 78. Mao died on 9 Sept 1976 age 82. Deng died on 19 Feb 1997 age 92. He asked for his funeral be simple and frugal. His ashes scattered in the sea {p 690 Vogel}

Here are 4 books from my library. Jung Chang’s Mao must be read with caution. Her book criticised by academics as biased and a hatchet job. Dillon’s Zhou is the latest just published in March 2020. It is concise and excellent. Vogel ‘s Deng is the definitive version. Who of these three is the eminence grise of China? Why?

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