In The Private Life of Chairman Mao, Mao’s personal doctor Li Zhisui argues that Chairman Mao was not a God, that he was stubborn, paranoid, charismatic, and most importantly callous about the devastation that he caused. Li’s argument is very effective because of his long-term proximity to Mao. Li depicts Mao the person, as opposed to Mao the ‘great leader’.

The everyday life of those living in China under Mao was greatly affected by his personality and leadership style. Mao had a hubris about him that led to him forcing the implementation of projects such as the Great Leap Forward, even though many of the others in the communist party saw that the Great Leap Forward was not a good idea. Mao felt very confident in both his policies as well as his abilities. This had a major effect on the everyday lives of those who lived under Mao as the famine coinciding with the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the largest mass deaths of the 20th century. Then a decade later Mao started the Cultural Revolution which threw millions of people’s lives off course and during which Mao’s cult of personality soared to new heights.

Matthew Battocchio, Grace Cai, Alvin Tang