The Emperor of Zhongnanhai 1994

  • Li Zhisui
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Li Zhisui, Mao’s private doctor on and off from the mid-1950s on, published in English this denunciation of the Chairman as evil emperor in 1994. Li depicts Mao as a corrupt king in Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound of the CCP in downtown Beijing. Like Snow’s book (see Document 11), Li’s has been translated into Chinese and circulates widely (albeit illegally) in China today. It has been criticized by the CCP for demonizing the Chairman and by scholars inside and outside China for its lack of balance (see Document 17). Yet Li paints a vivid picture, and most scholars trust his ability to report what he saw directly. This selection on the Great Leap Forward year of 1958 shows the rarefied atmosphere in which Mao traveled by that time — shielded from unpleasant realities by his staff and essentially duped by their efforts to please him. This picture helps us understand how Mao could have come to think that the unrealistic agricultural policies and backyard steel furnaces of the Great Leap Forward were working.


Great Leader Great Leap Party Secretary Vivid Picture Personality Cult 
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© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2002

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  • Li Zhisui

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