Becoming Madame Mao (Anchee Min) – A Brutal Portrait Of Maoist Communism in China

So many of us romanticize about Maoism and Communism, and China under Chairman Mao. But when you read Min’s books, the actual picture surfaces. Two books that you should read by Min, if you really want to know about the reality of Communism and Chairman Mao, are Red Azalea and Becoming Madame Mao.

Becoming Madame Mao is an enthralling read,starting with Madam Mao a.ka. Jiang Qing, requesting her daughter Nah, to get her justice. Nah refuses. She does not understand her mother, just like the rest of China, who ‘lovingly’ nicknamed her the ‘White-Boned Demon’. But this ‘White-Boned Demon’ was once a regular girl growing up in China. Her mother was a concubine to a rich man, who often beat her up and abused her. Jiang would also be abused and beaten. That is how rural China functioned at the time. Eventually, Jiang’s mother got kicked out,along with her daughter, became a prostitute,and died. Young Jiang then went on to live with her grandparents.

Becoming Madame Mao

Jiang was an unconventional girl.

She refused to have her feet bound and she refused marriage and the life of a housewife. She joined a theater troupe and traveled to Shanghai, where she came to know about an underground movement and the man heading it, someone we all have come to know as Chairman Mao. After a tumultuous love affair and marriage to a loyal communist, she found herself alone once again when her husband was arrested. Another love affair with an intellectual ensued,which can make one say that Jiang was a magnet for disturbed and warped love affairs.

Having emerged stronger from two life altering affairs, she found herself at a communist camp, where she met the enigmatic Chairman Mao. Mao was already married and with children, but went on to have an affair with Jiang which led to the demise of Mao’s first marriage. And with that, Madame Mao came into existence. Madame Mao,The first lady of China. Becoming Madame Mao

In a sad but ironic turn of events, while married to a great communist, Jiang found herself forced to live the life of a housewife, something which she was so against throughout her life. She had to tolerate the flirtatious nature of Chairman Mao,and was made to pacify his mistresses. What’s worse was that this came from a man who,in his political campaign, preached the equality of women. It comes as no surprise that towards the end, Jiang became frantic and lost her mental stability. Becoming Madame Mao


Becoming Madame Mao BW

She dreamed of taking over China after Mao, but found herself fighting different factions who wanted the same consequence for themselves.


These factions would later go on to blame Madame Mao for the death of Mao’s death. Madame Mao was sentenced to death for her alleged crimes,but being the fierce lady she was, she wasn’t about to end her life on someone else’s term. She hung herself and committed suicide, going out as valiantly as she lived her life.

I will end my recommendation here, as i would love you all to read the book itself, and travel through the various points in the life of China’s misinterpreted first lady. You have my word, you will not regret it.

Dipabali works as a content writer for Brainware University, professionally, and in her pastime, she is an avid reader who loves to travel. What’s more is that she is also a Kathak dancer, and occasionally writes fiction.

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