This historical fiction traces the rise and fall of the most demonized woman of 20th century China. First, she was Yun He, daughter of the fourth concubine; then, Lan Ping, the stage actress; then, Jian Qing, Mao's third wife; and finally, Madame Mao, propagandist of the cultural revolution and alleged leader of the Gang of Four. .
The Party kept her out of power and the public eye, but two decades later, she got her chance. Paranoid at the failure of the Great Leap Forward, Mao put her in charge of the Party's ideological propaganda. She built her own power base, which attracted her own set of enemies..
In Anchee Min's telling, Yun He's desire for affection and instinct for self-preservation drove her to reinvent herself, which she did quite well. She aspired to succeed Mao, but in the end Mao let her down. .
Jian Qing was ambitious, driven, cunning, and willful -- admirable traits if she were a man. Recommended read to fans of strong women in history. .
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