The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 5 of 5

September 23, 2017

As you have discovered, while many in the West have praised Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao as an accurate portrait of a manipulative egomaniac with little tolerance of dissent and a penchant for young women, the book was also criticized in China by those closest to Mao and by both eastern and western scholars of China.

In addition, some in the West have rejected or ignored what Dr. Li wrote about Mao and the famine during the Great Leap Forward. It’s as if, there are too many who only want the scandal, the rumors, the bad stuff.

According to the people that knew Mao best, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware that the situation that caused the great famine amounted to more than a slight shortage of food.

Li wrote, “But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation.”

While many in the West believe most of what Li wrote of Mao in his memoir, those same people do not accept what Li says about the famine because to do so would be to admit Mao wasn’t the butcher of twenty, thirty, forty or sixty million people (depending on who you read and want to believe) due to the famine and starvation during the Great Leap Forward.

This is known as cherry picking, which is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, confirmation bias, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict what you think.

Confirmation bias refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already think while ignoring evidence that proves their thinking was wrong. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs on faith, tradition, and prejudice.  A perfect example is Fake President Donald Trump and his loyal supporters.

One example of confirmation bias is from Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter’s book on the great famine where he claims that Mao was responsible for the famine and did nothing to save lives.

The point I want to make is if the West accepts the revised and sensationalized English version of Li’s memoir of Mao as accurate, how can anyone dispute what Li said about Mao not knowing the extent of the Great Leap Forward famine?  By 1959, Dr. Li had been Mao’s physician for almost three years and according to the doctor, he knew intimate details of Mao’s life at least during those few years during the famine.

On the other hand, if we accept that Dr. Li’s memory was wrong about Mao and the famine in 1959, how many other claims in his memoir of Mao are inaccurate?

In fact, Frank Dikotter sensationalized his book. the same as Random House did to Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao. by increasing the number of people that died by fifty percent to allow for possible under-reporting to come up with an unproven claim that 45-million died of starvation during the famine when in fact, the number of people that died may have been much lower.

Is it possible that Mao’s image outside of China has been unwittingly engineered by the western media to be worse than it should be?

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 4 of 5

September 22, 2017

In addition, Li cannot be credited with the English edition of his flawed memoir since the original manuscript written by Li was translated from his native Chinese into English by Professor Tai Hung-chao, before being edited by Thurston that Dr. Li later accused of cutting substantial parts of his original manuscript without his knowledge.

I was also told by a friend that read the Chinese language edition of the memoir that it reads as if it were an accountant’s ledger.

In addition, Professor Tai, the translator, alleged that the English-language publisher Random House wanted more sensationalist elements to the book than that which Li had provided them, in particular requesting more information about Mao’s sexual relationships.

Despite Li’s own protests, Professor Tai said Random House overruled him, and put fictional sexual claims in Dr. Li’s memoir anyway.

Then there is an Open Letter published in April 1995, a statement that said many of the claims made in Li’s memoir were false. One-hundred-and-fifty people that had personally known or worked with Mao signed that letter.

Then there is Professor Frederick Teiwes, a western academic specializing in the study of Maoist China, who was also critical of Li’s memoir. Professor Teiwes argued in his book The Tragedy of Lin Biao: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution 1966-1971 (1996) that despite Li’s extensive claims regarding the politics behind the Cultural Revolution, Dr. Li was actually “on the fringe” of the events taking place in the Chinese government.

Does that mean Dr. Li was a fraud, a liar, and that Random House helped make that fraud worse?

Continued in Part 5 on September 23, 2017 or return to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 3 of 5

September 21, 2017

In 1994, a year before he died, Dr. Li Zhisui published his memoir of Mao, The Private Life of Chairman Mao.

Li based the book’s contents upon his own memories of Mao several decades after the actual events because he burned all of his personal diaries during the Cultural Revolution in case something he wrote about Mao might get him in trouble with the teenage Red Guard.

In 1988, Dr. Li left China for good with Lillian (his wife), who was suffering from kidney trouble and joined their sons, Chong and Erchong, and daughter-in-law Mei, near Chicago.

His decision to set down his account of Mao’s private life was not easy since he had destroyed the forty notebooks of his private diary during the Cultural Revolution almost thirty years earlier.

It wouldn’t be until after Dr. Li’s wife died of kidney failure in 1989, that he started writing his memoir. “In her last days in the hospital, before she slipped into a coma,” says Li, “she urged me to write this book …”

One of Li’s collaborators involved in editing and revisions of the memoir, the western historian Anne F. Thurston, noted that because of this, Dr. Li’s claims were “fallible” and might “be wrong”.

One of the many critics of Li’s memoir was Qi Benyu, a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that was connected with the left wing of the Cultural Revolution Group and the red-guard power seizures of 1967.

Qi had no reason to love Mao since he was arrested and imprisoned by Mao’s in 1968 and stayed in prison until 1986, a decade before Li wrote and published his memoir. Before prison, Qi spent several years near Mao and says he never heard any rumors of Mao having extra-marital affairs despite the fact that other senior Party members were known to have done this. Qi also said that most of the Cultural Revolution part of Li’s memoir consisted of information gleaned from newspapers, journals, and other people’s writings.

Continued on September 22, 2017, in Part 4 or return to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 2 of 5

September 20, 2017

Eighty-nine percent of the Amazon reviews of Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao earned 4 and 5-star reviews giving the book a 4.5 out of 5-star average. Before reviewing the book, it would have helped if the readers knew more about Dr. Li’s life.

Dr. Li Zhisui (1919 – 1995), attended West China Union University in Chengdu now known as Sichuan University that’s one of the oldest in China.

Soon after graduating from the university as a Western trained medical doctor in his mid-twenties, Li fled China in the 1940s to escape the ravages and dangers of the war and he ended up working as a ship’s surgeon out of Sydney, Australia.

In 1949, The Lecturn reports, “Madly enthusiastic about the Communist victory in 1949, he gives up a promising young career in Australia to take part in the efforts to rebuild China after a century of warfare and internal struggle…”

Since Mao officially declared an end to the Cultural Revolution in 1969 [its active phase lasted until the death of the military leader Lin Bao in 1971], we may assume that Dr. Li returned to Beijing from the destitute village in Zhejiang Province and/or rural Jiangxi Province mentioned in Part 1 of this five part series, where the doctor was sent in 1965 as part of the Socialist Education Program.

By this time, Dr. Li may have become a bitter man as we discover when we read his opinions in Around the Bend With Mao Zedong.

“As Dr Li presented it, the Socialist Education Program amounted to an elaborate waste of time … given the disparity between the living standards of the city people and the poor-beyond-all-imagination villagers.”

Mao held power in China for twenty-seven years but Dr. Li spent only eight of those years with Mao (less than 34-percent). That does not sound like someone that was with Mao every day he was in power.

How do we know that Li did not become Mao’s doctor until 1957?

In 1995, two years before the British gave Hong Kong back to China, a Chinese language book was published in Hong Kong. It was called Lishi de Zhenshi: Mao Zedong Shenbian Gongzuo Renyuan de Zhengyan. Translated that means The Truth of History: Testimony of the personnel who had worked with Mao Zedong.

Three people who had known Mao personally wrote that book. One was his personal secretary Lin Ke. The second person was his personal doctor from 1953 to 1957, Xu Tao, and the third person was his chief nurse from 1953 to 1974, Wu Xujun.

The three authors argued in this Chinese language book that Dr. Li didn’t know Mao that well, and Li presented an inaccurate picture of Mao in his obviously flawed memoir. The trio attacked Li’s claim that he had been Mao’s personal physician in 1954 and presented copies of a document from Mao’s medical record showing that Li only took on the responsibility of caring for Mao on June 3, 1957.

Continued on September 21, 2017 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 1 of 5

September 19, 2017

On the Amazon page of The Private Life of Chairman Mao, it says, “From 1954 until Mao Zedong’s death 22 years later. Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler’s personal physician. For most of these years, Mao was in excellent health; thus he and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Dr. Li recorded many of these conversations in his diaries, as well as in his memory.”

The previous paragraph as you will discover if you finish reading this five-part series is not correct.

But first, let’s examine how accurate a memory is. According to Elizabeth Loftus, “Memory is imperfect. This is because we often do not see things accurately in the first place. But even if we take in a reasonably accurate picture of some experience, it does not necessarily stay perfectly intact in memory.”

Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory. Loftus is best known for her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory, and the creation and nature of false memories, including recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.

Loftus says, “Another force is at work. The memory traces can actually undergo distortion. With the passage of time, with proper motivation, with the introduction of special kinds of interfering facts, the memory traces seem sometimes to change or become transformed.

“These distortions can be quite frightening, for they can cause us to have memories of things that never happened. Even in the most intelligent among us is memory thus malleable.”

For an example of what professor Loftus is talking about, we learn about faulty memories from Amy Chua when she discussed the writing of her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

The Stamford Advocate reports, “The book was in many ways a family project. Rubenfeld, Chua’s husband, and their daughters read every draft and tried to reconcile their different memories. The final version reflects “four different sets of memories,” Chua said. “It was like family therapy.”

After reading about Dr. Li on his Amazon book’s page, it may come as a surprise to those that read Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao that Li was only one of Mao’s doctors. In addition, he wasn’t with Mao every day he was in power.

In fact, Dr. Li did not become Mao’s doctor until June 3, 1957, and Mao became the leader of China in 1949.

Then in 1965, according to  Around the Bend With Mao Zedong, eight years later, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, Dr Li was recruited into what was called the Socialist Education Program, and he was sent to a destitute village in Zhejiang Province.

In addition, in “Mao’s Last Revolution” by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, we discover that Dr Li was also living in rural Jiangxi Province, so maybe he spent time in both provinces during the ten year long Cultural Revolution that didn’t end until Mao died in 1976.

Continued on September 20, 2017 in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Someone Teach Donald Trump How Not to Lose a War

September 12, 2017

A recent Quinnipiac University Poll reports, “A total of 78 percent of voters are ‘very concerned’ or ‘somewhat concerned’ about the U.S. getting into a war in Syria, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 72 percent of voters are ‘very concerned’ or ‘somewhat concerned’ that U.S. involvement in Syria could lead to armed conflict with Russia.”

In addition, in January 2017, Atlantic.com revealed, “In dozens of interviews with U.S. officials and coalition military commanders—from the White House to America’s war room in Tampa, the command in Baghdad, forward control centers and training grounds in Kurdistan, defense minister meetings in Paris, and NATO headquarters in Brussels—one thing was clear and consistent. On the whole, America’s military leaders do not want to be here any longer than they must. … They don’t want to defeat ISIS only to become an occupying force of sitting ducks.”

Knowing these two facts, we learn from the wisdom in the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu that there is a high-possibility of defeat for the United States.

Who better to turn to than Sun Tzu to see if it is possible to achieve victory with Donald Trump as the president of the United States. After all, Sun Tzu has to be really good to still be taken seriously and studied about 2,500 years later.

That’s why it is time to reexamine the master that U.S. West Point cadets still study. Sun Tzu dates to China’s Warring States Period (476 – 221 BC). Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn Period of China as a military general serving under King Helu of Wu (544-496 BC).

Three Important points of advice from Sun Tzu

  1. Know your enemy and know yourself — understanding your opponent is crucial to victory.
  2. Sun Tzu prizes the general who can outwit instead of outfight his opponent — to subdue the enemy without fighting is the height of skill.
  3. Avoid what is strong. Attack what is weak.

About 500 BC, the King of Wu summons Sun Tzu, one of the greatest military minds in history, to save his kingdom from a more powerful enemy.

Sun Tzu was a warrior and a philosopher. He had a cohesive, holistic philosophy on strategy. Compare Sun Tzu to Fake President Trump, who was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, a cheat and a fraud in business, and with several bankruptcies behind him, a loser at business too. He is also a serial liar and proud of not reading books.

Sun Tzu tells the King of Wu he can defeat the enemy with a smaller army. Doubting him, the king challenges Sun Tzu to turn the palace concubines into a fighting force and Sun Tzu accepts.

Sun Tzu shows the concubines what to do, selects the best two students and puts them in charge of the others. When Sun Tzu orders the exercise to begin, the women laugh.

He tries again but the concubines laugh again. Sun Tzu says, “If instructions are not clear and commands not explicit, it is the fault of the general (or Donald Trump). But if the orders are clear, and my orders are clear, it is the fault of the subordinate officers.”

Donald Trump orders are never clear. Often, almost daily, he sends out tweets that shock and surprises his own staff.

Without warning, Sun Tzu beheads the two concubines he selected to lead the others. To Sun Tzu, war is a matter of life and death. This is the key principal of his teachings. Once understood, everyone from the general to the solider will be motivated to win. Without warning Trump fires people or doesn’t hire people to do the jobs in the government that must be done to keep America safe.

It is a fact that politics and public opinion decide the rules of the battle field, and this is where Donald Trump fails repeatedly.

Back to Sun Tzu. While the bodies of the first two concubines are still warm, Sun Tzu appoints two new concubines to lead the others. This time the concubines follow his orders without hesitation. The king of Wu is convinced and appoints Sun Tzu commander of the Wu army.

Sun Tzu trains an army of 30-thousand troops to fight a force ten-time larger. Outnumbered ten to one, Sun Tzu doesn’t build his defenses and then wait to be attacked. Instead, he does the unexpected. He invades Chu.

He doesn’t attack Chu’s main army. Instead, he attacks outposts and weaker targets. When Chu sends an army to fight, Sun Tzu slips his force away emphasizing maneuver, surprise and deception.

After every battle, Sun Tzu learns more about his enemy.

Sun Tzu wrote, “It is more important to outthink your enemy than outfight him. In war, numbers alone confer no advantage. Do not advance relying on sheer military power.”

Sun Tzu liked the enemy to maneuver and respond to his moves. This way he was in charge of the battlefield. Sun Tzu said, “Once you know the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, you can avoid the strengths and attack the weaknesses.” As the Vietnam War continued with mounting US causalities – just like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, support at home shifted against the war, and that ignores another of Sun Tzu’s rules, “The skillful leader subdues enemy’s troops without any fighting. One does not win wars by winning battles.”

Sun Tzu felt spies were important, and he devoted one chapter to spies. He said, “Use your spies for every kind of business … An accurate knowledge of the enemy is worth ten divisions,” but Donald Trump does not trust any of the U.S. spy agencies. Instead he has clearly revealed he only trust one of America’s enemies, Putin.

Sun Tzu said, “Let your plans be as dark as night – then strike like a thunderbolt,” but Donald Trump has revealed U.S. secrets publicly several times in meetings with Russians, to China’s leader, and through his tweets.

Sun Tzu said, “In battle use a direct attack to engage and an indirect attack to win,” meaning to deceive your enemy so you can win your real objective. In 500 BC in China, Sun Tzu’s hit-and-run campaign against the state of Chu worked. The Chu prime minister lost the public’s support and the morale of his troops.

Throughout the countryside of Chu, there was fear of where Sun Tzu will strike next just like there is fear in the United States and Europe where Islamic terrorists will strike next. When the larger Chu army threatened one of Sun Tzu’s allies, Sun Tzu used another rule.  Sun Tzu said, “All warfare is deception. If you can deceive your enemy before battle, you are more likely to win.”

Sun Tzu won the war against Chu, which had an army ten times larger than his. He did this through preparation, deception, and indirect attacks.

After winning that war, Sun Tzu retired and wrote his masterpiece, The Art of War.

The first line of Sun Tzu’s rules of war says, “War is a matter of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, survival or ruin.

Since World War Two, almost every American president has ignored Sun Tzu’s advice, because Sun Tzu said, “Sometimes, the best way to win is not to fight.” It’s clear that bumbling Fake President Donald Trump doesn’t know this and doesn’t care.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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An Erhu Master Captures a violent slice of China’s history

September 5, 2017

To understand another country’s history and culture, one should listen to its music, read that country’s novels, and see its films.

For instance, Reflection of the Moon about Ah Bing (1893 – 1950), a master of the Chinese Erhu, who in 1950, shortly before his death, became a national sensation as radios throughout China started to play his music.

Fortunate for me, this Chinese film had English subtitles, but were not the best quality and true to form for a Chinese movie filmed in 1979 (shortly after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976), the plot was melodramatic with traces of propaganda that favored the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

However, to be fair, the brutal Civil War between the Communist and Nationalist Parties raged from 1927 – 1950 (with a short break during World War II to fight the Japanese invaders), and the CCP, with support from several hundred million peasants, won.

Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution would not begin for years and for those that survived the purges in 1949 and 1950 (the victims were allegedly abusive land owners and drug dealers accused of crimes by the people they allegedly abused and victimized), Mao fulfilled his promise of land reform. Many of the landowners lost their lives, and the land they had owned was divided among the peasants collectively and not individually.

To understand the era of Ah Bing’s life, much of China (including Tibet) was still feudal in nature, and the upper classes often took advantage of the peasants and workers as if they were beasts of burden treated as slaves. At the time of his death, he was 57, and the average lifespan in China was 35. Today the average lifespan is 75.5 years.

Ah Bing’s real name was Hua Yanjun. His knowledge of traditional Chinese music and his talent as a musician went mostly unnoticed until the last year of his life in 1950, shortly after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

In 1950, two musicologists were sent to his hometown of Wuxi to record and preserve his music. At the time, he was ill and hadn’t performed for about two years. Six of his compositions that are considered masterpieces were recorded by those musicologists. It is said that he knew more than 700 pieces and most of them were his compositions.

The lyrics of some of his music criticized the KMT (Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government), and he was often punished for speaking out through his music. If you have read of The Long March, you know that the peasants did not trust the KMT, but they did trust the Communists, and most rural Chinese from that era still think of Mao as China’s George Washington.

Before the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, China’s Communist Party treated the peasants and workers with respect while the KMT didn’t.

China Daily reported that Ah Bing’s story and music is still popular, and that the Performing Arts Company of China’s Air Force performed Er Quan Yin, an original Western-style Chinese opera, in 2010. The performance was “Based on the story of legendary Chinese erhu performer, Hua Yanjun, or Blind Ah Bing, the opera tells the story of an erhu performer, Ah Quan and his adopted daughter Ah Li, who struggle to make a living in the 1950s.”

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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