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UNIT 23: People Shape the World

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PERSPECTIVES ON THE PAST

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Transcript of Audio Clip

Susan Glosser, Lewis & Clark College

Today, Chinese and foreigners alike are ambivalent about Mao. After his death and the conclusion of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese adulation of Mao was replaced by a sober recognition of the suffering that his ideas and programs had caused.

Still, most Chinese and foreigners acknowledge his key role in the Chinesvictory in World War II, in the defeat of the corrupt Nationalist Party in 1949, and in the expulsion of the foreign powers who had exploited China for centuries. Mao was also instrumental in raising the status of women and in redressing many economic inequalities. Under Mao China stood up.

Mao's mixed record raises an intriguing question. He and his fellow Communist Party members began their revolutionary work with the earnest desire to improve the lives of ordinary people. They launched a revolution with the best of intentions. But for a great many Chinese, the results were disastrous. Historians are still trying to understand what went wrongand how to assess Mao's legacy.



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