Books: Monkey's Uncle

MAO AND CHINA: FROM REVOLUTION TO REVOLUTION by STANLEY KARNOW 592 pages. Viking. $15.

One of the best-known characters of Chinese folklore is Monkey, who is forever running amuck and terrorizing celestial Establishment figures like the Jade Emperor. As Stanley Karnow notes in his account of the Cultural Revolution, Monkey also happens to be one of Mao Tse-tung's favorite characters. He has even likened himself to Monkey in a poem, wielding the great cudgel of "class struggle" against his enemies and history.

Viewing Mao as a latter-day Monkey may be the only way...

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