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|Ancient||New cities have +1 population|
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Born of fairly well-to-do peasant stock in Hunan, Mao (1893-1976 AD) was trained in Chinese classics and received a modern education. Observing the oppressive social conditions besetting China, Mao became one of the original members of the Chinese Communist Party, where he worked to recruit peasants to the new party. Mao proved to be an able leader, and he quickly rose through the ranks, crushing those who opposed him.
The party was then engaged in a running guerilla war with Chiang Kai-shek, ruler of "Nationalist" China. Now a commander of one of the People's armies, in 1934 Mao found himself and his forces in danger of encirclement and destruction. He famously led his ragtag force of 90,000 men, women and children on the grueling "Long March," a 6,000 mile trek through some of the most unpleasant terrain China has to offer. He arrived at the city of Yan'an having lost more than half of his force, but emerging as the undisputed leader of the Chinese Communist party.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), Mao fought both the Chinese Nationalist forces and the Japanese until the United States forced Japan's surrender in 1945. With the Japanese now out of the way, the communists concentrated their efforts against the Nationalists, and by 1949 they drove Chiang's forces off the mainland to the island province of Taiwan.
In total control of (mainland) China, Mao sought to keep his people imbued with revolutionary vigor, and in 1958 he instituted his "Great Leap Forward." This astonishing piece of political thinking resulted in the deaths of approximately twenty million Chinese, and easily set back China's development by 30 years. Not yet satisfied, in 1966 Mao and his wife initiated the "Cultural Revolution," a ten-year period in which China's artists, intellectuals, moderate politicians and other unenlightened or unlucky folk were imprisoned and killed or sent out to work the fields until they died or were judged "reeducated" by the workers. This adventure in social engineering killed perhaps one million people and further delayed China's emergence as a great world power.
Mao died in 1976, beloved by his people. To summarize him as a man, it could be said that Mao was a great war leader, an exceptional political infighter, and an unbelievably brutal dictator.
Before becoming a famous revolutionary and one of the twentieth century's most influential leaders, Mao Zedong was a librarian's assistant.
Mao Zedong was actually an officer in the Kuomintang - the Chinese nationalist movement established in the 1910s. Yet when the Kuomintang began a campaign to remove all communists from within their ranks, Mao and his fellow supporters were forced to flee. When pursued by Kuomintang forces, Mao and his followers embarked on an 8,000 mile (12,000 km) retreat that became known as the Long March.
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." - Mao Zedong