In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2009. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, S. 77–88
The author presents two new books by the sinologist A. V. Pancov: a biography of Mao Zedong and a newly annotated version of Zedong’s autobiography, which was the work of Edgar Snow in the 1930s. Pancov’s biography sketches a sophisticated picture of Mao’s life. He describes his path to becoming a political leader, with all its paradoxes. Mao experienced deep feelings – he suffered many breakdowns – and at the same time he was cold, calculating and determined to stop at nothing. Mao Zedong’s autobiography, written by Edgar Snow, is based on stories told by Mao, and additionally contains extracts from his speeches, conversations and poems. In the original edition there were many errors, which Pancov now corrects. They arose from the fact that Mao talked in his native idiom and it was hard for Snow to understand names and places correctly. Furthermore the book should be a “report for the strangers” and Mao wanted to appear in a favourable light. Together the two books create in their diversity a detailed picture of Mao Zedong.