China’s Reality Check on Long March – John M. Glionna

The Los Angeles Times looks at how the history of the legendary Long March is being rewritten, as the few remaining survivors begin to die off:

LongmarchSeveral controversial new histories have also cast light on the watershed event, many of them critical of Mao. Historians now put the distance of the march at 6,000 miles, not the 8,000 Mao had long boasted. Some question whether it lasted into 1936 as legend goes.

New research also shows that desertion among Red Army troops was common and that peasants often didn’t want to join. The army traded opium for supplies, and women were forced to leave their newborns behind with peasant families because a crying infant could endanger troops.

Intraparty struggles and betrayal brought repeated rounds of purges. And several of Mao’s critical blunders led to the bloody sacrifice of soldiers in hopeless battles. [Full text]

[Image: Tu Tongjin is a survivor of the Long March, via the LA Times]

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