“I never meant to stay in China…. I never even meant to go to China.” The contradiction defines Sidney Rittenberg‘s life and world. Mr. Rittenberg knows China’s epic Communist revolution intimately, not as a witness, but a participant – often on the wrong side of history.
Not many people can still close their eyes and recall playing cards and folk dancing with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and the young rebels in the bean-oil lit caves of Yanan. But Rittenberg can.
Rittenberg’s views on Mao remain complex: Mao “genuinely believed he was doing good.” Mao was “definitely a genius and a brilliant writer,” he says. Mao’s essay “On Protracted War,” for example, tells exactly how Japan’s military would crumble. Yet Mao was despotic, “a peasant boy who grew up in a remote village, with a narrow education [who] never lost the capacity for the envy and revenge of his childhood.” [Full Text]
– See also the New York Times’ A Long March From Maoism to Microsoft