Becoming Madame Mao

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Anchee Min was a poster child for the Cultural Revolution. She was handpicked for her proletarian good looks by Mao Tse-Tung’s wife, who wanted Anchee Min to star in propaganda films.

But after Mao died and Madame Mao was denounced for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Anchee Min became a pariah, sent to a labor camp for eight years. It was an opportunity to spend time with Madame Mao’s friends and enemies and learn everything about her.

The official version of Chinese history now is that Madame Mao was evil personified; she’s known as the “white-boned demon.” Anchee Min puts flesh and blood on that image. She sees in Madame Mao an early feminist, a woman motivated by ambition, fueled by revenge and tortured by her unrequited love for Chairman Mao.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Anchee Min, author of Becoming Madame Mao.