Chairman Mao Zedong also referred to as Mao Tse-Tung was the founder of the People’s Republic of China and was the prime leader from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. He was also the chief of the communist revolution in China and fought against the National Party in the Chinese Civil War. Maoism refers to Chairman Mao’s ideas regarding Marxism and communism. His status as a revolutionary in the world can probably be placed only next to that of Lenin.

His astute judgment and supple mind helped to reshape the political and social structures of this populous and ancient country. Mao was highly literate and sensitive and focused on a relentless struggle against injustice and inequality; thus, at some point, he would come out so ruthless and his brutal rule over China led to the deaths of an estimated 50-75 million people making his reign the bloodiest in human history. Mao was skeptical of Western sincerity and indifferent toward Confucianism hence the sought inspiration from Lenin’s anti-imperialism and Marx’s class struggle to become a communist.

Top 10 Facts:

1. He was born from a peasant family

Born on the 26th of December 1893 in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, China, Mao was a son of a peasant farmer. His mother Wen Qimei was a loving and kind Buddhist while his father Mao Yichang, a strict hard working Confucian. Yichang strived to get out of his father’s debt and became a self-made man out of buying land from other impoverished peasants and lending money. The Mao’s become one of the richest families in the village and were living in luxury compared to their neighbors who lived in ardent poverty and always feared they would starve to death.

A case not so familiar with most peasant families, the Maos could afford to send their son to the school, and Zedong loved to read and learn. Coming from Shaoshan, such a background village that couldn’t even afford a magazine, Mao learned so much from school including the story about an emperor who had died then succeeded by a two-year-old relative, Puvi.

2. He was an accomplished poet

Who would have imagined such an ardent leader would have such an artistic side? Well, he was a renowned poet well remembered for his writing skills and poetry in his home country. Some of the western scholars admitted that Mao had such impressive poetry pieces. He preferred classical literature and mainly wrote his poem based on traditional styles and his first poetry book published in 1957. His poems would then become so famous has they were taught and memorized in schools.

3. He wrote the second- Most printed book of all time

The Little Red Book is the second most published book in the whole world after the Bible. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung became so influential beyond China that it was distributed to 100-plus countries and translated in different languages in 1966. Western intellectuals, Maoists, and revolutionaries adored the book. Almost everyone enjoyed the craze that came with this book.

4. He loved swimming

Mao was always encouraging exercise and physical education, and he adored swimming. At 72 years old, shortly before the Cultural Revolution occurred, Mao joined other swimmers for Cross-Yangtze competition where he did quite well proving that even though he was getting old, he was still quite robust and active.

5. He was a feminist

Mao was big on championing gender parity and he fought for women’s rights. He argued that women should have same rights as men ranging from the rights to go to school and same job opportunities to the right to divorce and inherit property. With his infamous quote “Women Hold Half The Sky”, Mao worked on the constitution reforms to accommodate women even better as the law promised women equal rights to men in all spheres of life, in economic, family, political, cultural and social life.

6. He dramatically improved his people’s well being

Chairman Mao and his communist government did quite a lot to improve the well-being of the average Chinese person. When he came to power in 1949, medical treatment was almost nonexistent, with average life expectancy of a Chinese citizen being just 36 years. The quality of life was quite poor and weak. But under his governance, there was the launch of basic hygiene and public health care programs as well as an increase in mass literacy. New schools were set up and the Chinese writing systems simplified.

7. In the beginning, Mao’s reforms were liberal

During Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campaign, he allowed intellectuals and writers to criticize the government but with more solutions and ideas other than criticism. Critics were reassured and started speaking up and calling out for reforms.

8. He was visionary and a communist

After spending most of his childhood doing agriculture in the family owned farms, he joined China’s Communist party and started making history. He went to his first communist party meeting in 1921. Mao grew up as a peasant, and he firmly believed that the communists are the perfect match to represent their interests. He studied Marxism and believed that communism was the ideal way to get the peasants behind him in overthrowing the government.

9. His son died in the Korean War

During the Korean civil war, Mao insisted that they send troops to help North Korea out even with reluctance on the Chinese communist government part. China was poorly equipped and suffered casualties. The Maos were one of the many families that were affected by this devastating war since his 28-year old son Anying was among the victims. Most party leaders were apprehensive about his decision to let his son go but he was so stubborn even to listen. He died in an American bombing raid just after a month. This was difficult for Chairman Mao and he couldn’t sleep or eat, all he did was smoke and sit in grief.

10. Family life and death

Mao was married four times and had ten children. He died at the age of 82 years having ruled China up to the 9th of September 1976 where he died of Parkinson’s disease.

Mao Zedong retained his power to the very end even when he was physically debilitated and wouldn’t rule China in a new and innovative way. Chairman Mao goes in the history books as one of the powerful reformers and movers of the 20th century. He devoted his life to helping advance the peasant life that had initially been terrorized by those in power for centuries. However, it was during this pursuit of goals that he presented himself as dictatorial and violent.

We can never discredit his efforts in developing a revolutionary strategy that would help the countryside cities and also his intellectual, political thoughts and application that would enable bridge the gap between the leaders and the citizens. He also championed a strategy of permanent violent and nonviolent revolution to guard against the recurrence of the past bureaucracy that would always emerge after a revolution and the revolutionaries became reformers. Mao still is popular since he defined history and Mao has always held high regards as a great political strategist and military mastermind.