Anchee Min

Becoming Madame Mao

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From the national bestselling author of Red Azalea. “Extraordinary . . . Min lets [Madame Mao] be seen as never before. Bottom line: riveting” (People).
In a sweeping, erotically charged story, Anchee Min creates a finely nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating, and vilified, women of the twentieth century.
Madame Mao is almost universally known as the “white-boned demon”—ambitious, vindictive, and cruel—whose bid to succeed her husband led to the death of millions. But Min’s story begins with a young girl named Yunhe, the unwanted daughter of a concubine who ignored her mother’s pleas and refused to have her feet bound. It was the first act of rebellion for this headstrong, beautiful, and charismatic girl, who would find fame as an actress in Shanghai, and later fall in love and marry Mao Zedong. The great revolutionary leader proved to be an inattentive husband with a voracious appetite for infidelity, but the couple stayed together through the Communist victory, the disastrous Great Leap Forward, and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.
Min uses the facts of history and her lush, penetrating psychological imagination to take us beyond the myth of the person who so greatly influenced an entire generation of Chinese. The result is a complex portrait of a woman who railed against the confines of her culture, whose deep-seated insecurities propelled her to reinvent herself constantly, and whose ambition was matched only by her ferocious, never-to-be-fulfilled need to be loved.
“Sheer poetry.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A magnificent book: consequential, significant, beautiful . . . the true heroine is writer Anchee Min.” —San Diego Union-Tribune
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374 printed pages
Original publication



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