Talk:Mao: The Unknown Story/Archive 2

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Very biased account

A very biased account (with omissions, mis-presentations and mis-interpretations) of the aspirations and achievements of a man whose legacy can only by adequately judged by historians of the future (and maybe some farsighted historians of today who have comprehensive and unbiased knowledge of all the history related). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

My Chinese History professor once had a meeting with many other prominent scholars in this field to discuss the credibility of the book.

They found many dubious matters in the book such as that the authors frequently (perhaps purposely) incorrectly cite other sources in order to strengthen their arguments as well as use information that have no backup at all.

In the end, they concluded that the book is factually and intellectually unreliable.

Driven by curiosity, I borrowed a copy from a friend and read couple dozen pages, and concluded that the book is more like an anti-communist propaganda and I should just trust my professor/her colleages' words. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

So? It's hardly news that some academics disagree with the book - their views are already on the page. Just as the views of those that support the book are. John Smith's 17:30, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Besides, do you think anyone actually is actually going to listen to your unsourced, anonymous criticisms? Considering that you only managed to read through a "couple dozen" pages, you can hardly claim to have the right to criticize the book.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  00:40, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
This page does not present a world wide view. As I've said elsewhere, I've not yet read a single positive review of the book in a reputable Chinese language publication. --Sumple (Talk) 00:56, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Since when was a book's quality established on that basis? John Smith's 10:36, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Sumple, if you can source that, then it's valid material for the article. I would be especially interested in any Chinese sources giving it bad reviews outside of the PRC, but as long as they're reputable it's fine.  freshofftheufoΓΛĿЌ  12:29, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Sumple's compilation of Chinese language criticism of the book

This section contains Sumple's compilation of Chinese language articles or other works criticising the book. I am planning to build these up before writing them as a section for insertion into the article. Please add any comments you may have in the "comments" subsection below.

  • Source: Luo, Yu (2007-03-05). "To Jung Chang". Sing Tao Daily. Sing Tao News Corporation. 
    • Luo Yu, son of People's Republic of China Senior General Luo Ruiqing, and noted critic of Mao in his memoirs and other works, criticises Jung Chang's work because of its selective use of primary sources, open bias, and over-simplification and generalisation.
    • Luo criticises Jung Chang's neglect of the considerable body of work analysing Mao, his policies, and actions. For example, he criticises Jung Chang's use of Peng Dehuai's personal statements without any attempt at analysing the underlying tension and complex relationship between Peng and Mao.
    • Luo notes that Jung Chang lacks an understanding of the differences between CPC andKMT, in terms of ideology, organisation, and makeup. Most importantly, Jung Chang generalises her personal hatred of Mao to a complete condemnation of all Communist Party and Mao supporters.
    • Luo most emphatically objects to Jung Chang's simplistic equation of Mao with Hitler and Stalin. \
    • Luo also criticises Jung Chang's reliance on unreliable primary sources and personal inference. For example, he likens to the Arabian Nights Jung chang's "revelation", on tenuous evidence and in defiance of the weight of historical evidence and academic consensus, that Chiang Kai-shek "allowed" Mao to march to Yan'an. As another example, he cites Jung Chang's claim that the Tiananmen Square massacre was started by soldiers firing by mistake in the chaos, rather than by Deng and Yang, this time relying almost exclusively on primary evidence of dubious authenticity allegedly smuggled out of China. (Personal note: I've read the published version of these documents, and I agree that they are of very dubious authenticity.)
    • Luo also criticises the extent to which Jung Chang makes inferences from her personal experiences in the Mao-era. Luo explains that, as the son of a senior minister and general, he understood the complete lack of access of someone in Jung Chang's position to information about the inner workings of government, especially Mao's personal thoughts and intentions. Thus, he explained, while Wild Swans dealt with a subject close to Jung Chang's life, her lack of understanding of the subject matter of Mao contributed to her simplistic portrayal of Mao. --Sumple (Talk) 08:38, 5 March 2007 (UTC)


Are there no reviews in the Standard? And by the way, who is this guy other than some general's son - is he a historian? John Smith's 17:08, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

As a side-note, if something is added it needs to be pretty brief - there are already a lot of comments. John Smith's 17:10, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if he's a historian. This article was published in a newspaper. But he has published historical memoirs, dealing with Mao and other "founding fathers" of Communist China, which imo makes him at least as authoritative as Jung Chang. But I will look for his biographical details where possible.
As to length - I know. I won't be putting all this into the article. This is just my notes for when that section does get written. (after I dig up more material) --Sumple (Talk) 22:00, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

"Views of the book"

If newspaper commentators are to be ignored in this section, why does Philip Short get a look-in? One of the criticisms I've heard of Jung Chang is that she isn't a historian - but neither is Short. So why does one non-academic get special treatment here so that he can be included? Roy Hattersley has written books as well and his article in the Guardian isn't mentioned. John Smith's 11:40, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree that there needs to be consistent treatment. But on what basis are newspaper commentators excluded? --Sumple (Talk) 11:26, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Because there are so many of them and wikipedia is not a review page - or something like that (I forget the actual term). The current "academic" focus was designed to limit the number of reviews that could be included in the page itself. If we open it up to newspaper reviews, then it will grow hugely and become a consolidation of those reviews - that isn't what the article is supposed to do. In the past there were problems with people wanting to stuff a review in they'd read. We should really only have a few, serious views from each side to indicate the sort of opinions out there. Indeed I was wondering if we couldn't reduce the previous version of the reviews section and make proper citations of them. John Smith's 11:37, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for using the talk page. My view is that just as we limit academics to those in the actual field, we should limit reviews of others writers to those who have some authority in the field, as well. In short, from a scholarly and reliable source. Philip Short is allowed because of this reason. The writer I included, Pomfret, has spent seven years covering China, and studied at Nanjing University; he was awarded the Osborne Elliot Award for the best coverage of Asia by the Asia Society, and has written a book on "New China." Thus, his reivew and views of this book are worthy for inclusion. The other factor for deciding if the writer's view should be included other than reliability, in my opinion, is if it demonstrates a POV not already included in the article, but this is mainly for size. If a POV is wide spread we can say so in one sentence and just pick one or two of the best sources to express the POV. I felt this POV was a little lacking, although it surely is not lacking in the reviews and literature published about this book.Giovanni33 15:37, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
But Pomfret has done zero research/not written a book on Mao. Writing books on China doesn't make him nearly as qualified as Short. I also don't see anything he says as being special compared to other reviews posted. John Smith's 16:15, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Maybe not qualified as Short but still qualified enough. One does not write a book on China's politics and history, and study China in general, without learning about Mao. His views carry weight. 17:15, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
That's not a valid argument, nor does it address the point about having so many reviews in. There were already 6 reviews/commentators mentioned. Where does it stop? 8? 10? 20? Don't say adding his in is "just enough". Also I have yet to hear what is so necessary about his comments. John Smith's 17:48, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I've also just noticed there is no link to the review. Someone will need to dig out a valid link, or I will eventually have to remove the reference regardless of how the discussion goes. John Smith's 17:52, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I added in the link to the full and actual review. I also added back the introduction to the writer. Its important because it speaks to his qualifications to speak on the matter. As far has his book is concerned, perhaps you should take a look at its actual subject matter. It pertains to many of the exact same things Jung Chang writes about. In fact, in reviews of his book, its is often compared to Mao The Unknown Story. For the same reason Philip Short is included, so should be he be. Both writers are similarly qualified and have published books on the same subject matters.Giovanni33 20:50, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Giovanni, you do not say things like "Award winning writer on China related matters", because it is too biased in his favour. Jung Chang has been given awards, but I can promise you if I tried to insert that into references to her people would remove them very fast. If someone made a page for him then all his awards can be listed - but you don't make biased comments like that when mentioning what they say as it gives them a special profile. Do you think none of the other people mentioned have never won a prize? Thanks for the link, but I must insist on removing the laudatory statement. Plus you should not advertise people's websites and the like - but I'll convert it to his name, so people can learn about him. I also cut down on the extracts while we talk about this.
As to the rest, I don't see that as a justification over him being included when I have talked about the fact he isn't an academic, he hasn't published a book on Mao like Short and we have lots of other reviews by deserving and knowledgeable people that have been left out to keep the "views" section down. As I keep saying this is not supposed to be a review of the book, nor to regurgitate information from every interesting one. John Smith's 21:15, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I will compromise and accept your removal but I put in a little more from the actual review, which you removed. I left out most, still. Also, you're wrong that he didn't publish a book about Mao. His book is largly about Mao and his programs, and the effects they had on people. If we have other reviews from other writers who have published books on China's history, we should take a look to see if what they say merits mention, or is already covered. Its a case by case basis but we apply the same standards.Giovanni33 21:26, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
So, technically, you're saying dozens more reviews could go in? There's no end to it? From what I understand Pomfret's book discusses in part fallout that Mao had - it isn't a book into his life and career. John Smith's 22:30, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
No, there is a limit to cover the range of opionin and then give appropriate weight. As it stands its not too big and can be bigger, if there are other qualified responses that have not been covered yet. This does not create a slippery slope. Pomfret's book is not a biography, but it is sufficently about many of the same historical and political debates about Mao and his policies and that alone suffices to make him a reliable writer whose opinion is as worthy as Shorts.Giovanni33 23:06, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Well I might be willing to let it stand, though I might want to adjust it further. Also I've been looking at some other reviews - maybe another could go in. John Smith's 19:52, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Instead of reverting again, I'm going to bring this issue here to see what others think. The text I've removed from the section that is supposed to be dealing with responses the book has recieved is as follows:

"In other cases, Chang and Halliday's arguments have been supported indirectly. In the book they wrote that the Communists spent more time fighting the KMT than the Imperial Japanese Army, a point that has also been made by various military historians researching the Second Sino-Japanese War.[1]"

The rationale that is given to include this here is that it indirectly supports the book because the book makes the same point others have, at least this particular point. My response is so what? There are many books that make the same points. How is pointing out that there are non original claims advanced by the authors of this book, who repeat the claims put forward by other authors relevant to the reactions this book has recieved!?--On a side note, its besides the point but often times they borrow these old claims, some of them refuted--some not--but do not credit the original authors, but pass them off as original. Still, this has nothing to do with what the section is supposed to be about: reviews/reactions to the book. Saying "this other book makes the same point, see:" does not fit.Giovanni33 00:15, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

One significant criticism made of the book was that the point made was incorrect. So the article was inserted to show this wasn't just their view. I don't know why you're being so inflexible over this. John Smith's 00:38, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I know, and it still doesn't make sense to me. Does anyone say that they invented this view, and alone share it? On the contrary the critcism is that they pick up old claims that have long already been settled questions among the academic community, such as the claim that the KMT forces allowed Mao's long March on purpose because of Chaing's son being held captive in the USSR. They didn't invent this point, but its a point that most China scholars regard as completely bogus. Does this mean we should entertain the views about this point by citing other works who make it? No. This is not about debating the validity of the points of the book, its about reivews of the book itself by writers who are talking about the book. These are two different things.Giovanni33 00:53, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Very well. There once was a valid reason for it, but as the objection has now gone I suppose it is rather redundant. However I will try to find something to replace it later on - you can remove it now if you wish. John Smith's 01:19, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok, thanks.Giovanni33 01:42, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Crossing of Luding Bridge

Last night I edited this page to describe an account (Sun Shuyun's) of the Luding Bridge incident that is largely similar to Chang's. I felt that this was fair material to put on the page considering that several sources are listed that disagree with Chang. Moreover, since Sun's book is the newest academic book on the Long March, what it says is particularly relevant.

The change that I made was reverted by Giovanni33, with the explanation of "This is not about claims of other writers." I take strong exception to this reversion. Why would it be inappropriate to display the claims of other writers when assessing the credibility of Chang's book? Moreover, if it is inappropriate to show what other writers think, then Giovanni33 should have deleted ALL of the other authors' claims. As it stands, Giovanni deleted the one author that agrees with Chang, while leaving intact the claims of Salisbury, Salisbury, and Wilson, all of whom disagree with Chang. This strongly smacks of NPOV.

My final quibble is that the page states that "diaries of several veterans of the Long March[...] mention a battle at Luding Bridge." I am currently intensively researching the Luding Bridge incident and, as far as I am aware, this claims is quite untrue. Who are these "several veterans"? Certainly, several veterans wrote of crossing the bridge AFTER the battle, but I am only aware of one first person account (Yang Cheng-wu's) by a witness of the battle. Moreover, the Yang account first appeared in the English language in a propagandistic volume entitled "Stories of the Long March." It was published by the state-sponsored Foreign Languages Press in 1958, as the Great Leap Forward was launched. Needless to say, the authenticity and veracity of an account published at such a time and by that press should be doubted by serious historians.

Since I do not read Chinese, I suppose it is possible that there are Chinese language eyewitness accounts of the battle besides Yang's. But I doubt it.

I have two requests:

1. Anyone who wishes to revert the Sun Shuyun paragraph should substantially explain why on this talk page before they go ahead do so.

2. I would like someone to at least name other eyewitness accounts of the Luding Bridge battle. If no other account is mentioned within the next day or so, I will delete from the page the claim that such accounts exist.

First, please use a header for new comments and post at the bottom. I must apologise as I reverted without reading your post too closely (though I have subsequently self-revert. It's fine, actually, as it does go to whether the point about Luding Bridge is credible or not. If we had to delete that, one should delete all the other references too. John Smith's 12:39, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing this out. I was also was too quick when I saw what was added and thought it was added to the "response to the book' section, which would be a problem because that section is for authors reacting to the book, not authors who are debating points of contention that the book happens to also talk about. Now I see that it was in a different place (Debates), where this point of contention was the subject matter iteslf, and that this other standard is the correct one in this section. However, you can add a reference/link to support your addition? Thanks. Giovanni33 18:10, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, the reference would be the book itself, Gio. To be fair I know he's right, so if he doesn't have a copy I think it's fair to leave it. John Smith's 18:47, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I would like to see the page number cited, and a link if possible for others to verify what is said exactly pertaining to this point. That is what I mean. Also, is Sun Shuyun a historian by training, or even an academic? I find her described as "An adventurer, a writer and a director."[2] I know she has made documentaries, and written two books. In her book, The Long March, I did find this, about the Luding Bridge, where she quotes a local blacksmith who gave her this account:
Only a squadron was at the other end. It was a rainy day. Their weapons were old and could only fire a few metres. They were no match for the Red Army. When they saw the soldiers coming, they panicked and fled—their officers had long abandoned them. There wasn't really much of a battle. Still, I take my hat off to the twenty-two soldiers who crawled on the chains. My father and I did it in the old days when we checked the bridge, but we were inside a basket. Those men were brave. They crossed very quickly."
So by this account there was a battle, although it was not as fierce as purported. Chang claims there was no battle at all, and cites an eye witness who others have not been able to locate to locate, or verify.Giovanni33 21:14, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
There was no battle because the other soldiers ran away. Soldiers being in proximity of each other isn't a battle. John Smith's 21:49, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Semantics. There was a confrontation in which one party was over powered and fled (the warlords). But there was shooting back and forth and in my book that makes it a battle. So by her own account there was at least some kind of battle, which contrasts with the claim there was no battle at all that Chang makes.Giovanni33 22:21, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think so. There needs to be a fight - the extract suggest they ran before they were engaged. Ergo there was no battle. John Smith's 22:36, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Well that is why its good to have the exact text quoted because there are different interpretations. When I read "there was not much of a battle," I read there was still a battle. "Not much" doesnt mean "none," at least for most people, I think.Giovanni33 22:42, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Giovanni, most people would think a battle requires fighting. And the blacksmith suggests there was none - so whether he thought there was a battle or not doesn't matter as much as the situation he described. Whether or not there was a "battle", there was no fighting according to this source. The important thing is that Luding Bridge is remembered as some heroic struggle - Jung Chang said that was anything but what happened, as does the extract above. There's no point getting pedantic as to whether the word "battle" applies, given all that's important is whether fighting occurred or not. John Smith's 23:05, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Its not good to decide for what most people think. Its better to quote what is said and let the reader decide what it means. In most battles, at some point, one side flees. The confrontation of forces occured when they saw each other. The description suggest there were guns fired. That is a battle.Giovanni33 23:09, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
First of all the material is already quoted on the Luding Bridge page. Second it does not say anywhere that guns were fired, only that they had poor range. To me it says they ran as soon as they saw Communist soldiers and before battle was joined. That's my position. John Smith's 23:15, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I know. But, its moot as another editor has already adjusted the language, which I'm fine with.Giovanni33 00:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I see you partially reverted the other editor so I substituted the acual wording so the reader can decide if it means not any significant battle or no battle at all: "they panicked and fled...There wasn't really much of a battle" at Luding Bridge."Giovanni33 00:43, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if Sun Shuyun had a PhD in history. I do know that she graduated from Beijing University and then won a scholarship to Oxford University (, two facts which show that she must have done at least some graduate coursework and must also be quite intelligent. I find it frustrating that Sun's academic credentials have been called into question, but not those of the two Salisburys and Dick Wilson. Likewise, citations have been requested for Sun, but not for the others.-- 00:38, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't question Salisbury and Wilson's credencials because there is no question. We don't even know what degree she obtaned from Beijing. For all I know it could be in basket weaving. And a scholarship alone doesnt mean anything. In anycase, another editor changed "academic" to "writer," and she has written on the subject so I'm ok with her views being presented. But, I don't see any evidence for calling her an academic.Giovanni33 08:34, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
There is just as much reason to question the other authors' credentials. Harrison Salisbury definitely did not have a PhD (look at the links on his Wiki article); he was a reporter. I am near sure that Charlotte Salisbury didn't either. As for Dick Wilson, I can never find much info on him, but I bet he's the same. On other note, I'm fairly sure that they don't have basket weaving at Oxford. If they did, I'm also sure they wouldn't give people scholarships to go there and study it. Sun is certainly not an academic, but she's closer to being one than the Salisburys. All of that being said, I don't think any of these authors should be taken down; I just want there to be a sense of perspective about the whole thing.--Bgaulke 22:35, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I feel like the Li Guixiu quote is unnecessarily long. Couldn't we just include the part about there being a fight at the bridge? That's the only thing that is directly pertinent.--Bgaulke 22:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I'll cut down the Li quote, although I like the richness of her descriptions that historically set the tone of the times. Its not really too long. About credenials, I never asked who had a PhD. Nor am I arguing that we take any of the authors down. I only wanted to know the credencials of Shuyun, because I have not been able to verify what they were. She was described as an academic, and I didn't see any evidence for that. Hence, the question. Also, winning a scholarhip to Oxford doesnt mean she ever attended the school, nor graduated from there, or obtained any degree or course work--whatever the coursework was. All this is rather academic at this stage, no pun intended.Giovanni33 22:45, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
There was still more to cut out, so I did. If people want to read the whole story they can via the link. It's not relevant to the discussion as to what the KMT told, what the Communists were wearing on their feet, etc. John Smith's 23:01, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Giovanni, I gave ground on the last two disputes over content we had. Now it is just down to phrasing - will you never give any ground? John Smith's 23:58, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
If you are still not convinced, look at what the article says.
"This week in Luding the Herald could not find the authors' unnamed local source, or anyone who remembered someone of her description. But it did find Li, whom other locals said was the last surviving witness they knew of in Luding."
"Found" is the past tense of "find". If you insist on anything else it shows you are doing so for POV reasons. John Smith's 00:17, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
This is not the only issue/changes you are making. For example, you said she claimed to be 15 at the time. The article does not say she made any such claim. The article states as a fact that she was 15 at the time given her current age.Giovanni33 00:27, 24 March 2007 (UTC)


There is no reason to cast doubt about the interviews that Chang and Halliday conducted. Extensive documentation of them is at the end of the book. It seems unlikely that the authors would shoot themselves in the foot by falsely claiming that they interviewed hundreds of people, most of whom are still alive. If they are lying about this, then surely some of the people who weren't interviewed would call them out on such a lie. Of course, whether the interview material was used in an academically responsible way is another question entirely.--Bgaulke 08:05, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Nevertheless, we have no-one else's but the author's words that they did conduct these interviews. --Sumple (Talk) 10:59, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
That is the case with any work, Sumple. It's ridiculous for you to keep insisting all these caveats be attached to any references of the book. You got caught short on the Mao talk page by assuming their reference to Mao not bathing was made up until someone provided the source - why don't you just admit you let your dislike for her influence your editing too much and let this go? John Smith's 12:18, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
You are attacking my edits on the basis of my other edits, and some sort of generalising conclusion that I dislike the author - which, in another context, I might say is very Jung Chang-esque of you. It is certainly not good editorship and I warn you to desist before becomes stalking.
You are right that that's the case with any work. However, most other works don't go around claiming that they had access to previously-unseen footage/primary source material (or conducted hundredds of interviews with people whom, somehow, more established authors have failed to notice) without providing this material or at least some means of verifying the material.
As for "caught short", please explain how I was "caught short". I know Jung Chang says that in her book, and she, as usual, provides some dubious unverified account, and probably neglects any other accounts to the contrary. What you said was very rude of you and I request that you retract it. --Sumple (Talk) 12:47, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh come now - lots of works uncover new ground. That doesn't mean they must be caveated into oblivion, which is what you keep doing. I am not attacking you just because of other edits you made - I was questioning your objectivity by always believing anything she says is not credible. This goes towards your caveating here. Your assumption that she doesn't try to find views to the contrary isn't terribly relevant on the bathing matter, unless you can find a book written by someone from his entourage that says he did bathe regularly and he wasn't toweled down.
You have repeatedly displayed an anti-Chang bias in the past, and you are still doing that now. I will retract my statement when you stop this silly and rather petty qualification of everything she and her husband says. It really is quite ridiculous - I doubt anyone would stand for it on the Iris Chang/Rape of Nanking (book) page. Don't complain that people have talked about the massacre in the past - people have talked about Mao many times too. All books are original and contain new information, unless they are just repeating what others have said. So in that case most books should be caveated to your logic. John Smith's 13:13, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
This, to me, is what the bottom line is. If I write a book and say that I interviewed hundreds of people, and I provide full bibliographic citation for those interviews, then I would have to be unthinkably brazen to just be making it up. All it would take is for one of those hundreds of people to go to a newspaper and say, "I wasn't interviewed," and I immediately lose credibility. I am not aware of one person, not a single person, saying that Chang didn't interview him or her when she claimed to have done so. Unless you find some reason, beyond a general suspicion of the author, to cast aspersion upon the verity of these interviews, then there is absolutely no reason to cast doubt upon the interview claim in this article.
Do not mistake me for someone who slavishly believes everything Jung Chang says. I am well aware of her compromised academic reputation and often dishonest scholarship. On this particular issue, however, I see no reason to doubt that these interviews occurred. I will eliminate the "claimed" wording within a day unless I see some reason why I should not.--Bgaulke 16:09, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
You miss my point. By WP:RS the onus is not on me to supply sources in order to "cast aspersions", as you put it. The onus is on whoever wrote that to supply a source. As it stands, that sentence is unsourced. I understand that the claim was made by the authors. If you read WP:V and WP:NPOV, you will note that an inherently unverifiable claim like this will need to be presented with reference to its source material, viz, that the authors claim this. Wikipedia policy demands no less.
Speculation from you or I about whether they would be "brazen" enough to lie about this or exaggerate the level or extent of their research is totally irrelevant.
Allow me to present an analogy. Let's say the authors interview and quote Mr Li in the book. That's verifiable information, and in the article we can say "The book interviews and quotes Mr Li [page number]".
But here the claim is that they interviewed "hundreds" of people. Are hundreds of people quoted in the book? No. So it's just a claim, no different from any other claim made in the book.
You wouldn't say "Mao Zedong is worse than Hitler [source]". You'd say "The authors conclude/claim that Mao is worse than hitler [source]."
This is no different. --Sumple (Talk) 01:48, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
The sentence is not unsourced; it takes Chang and Halliday as a source--something obvious enough to the reader. Moreover, you claim that if quotes were provided from these interviews, that that would make them somehow less of a "claim" and more of a "verifiable" fact. This is ridiculous. If the authors made up the interviews, they could make up the wording of the interviews as well. Why not? Moreover, from a cursory look at the text, it is immediately obvious that several dozen of these interviews ARE quoted from. If one were to actually sit down and count them up, I would not be surprised if hundreds of interviewees are quoted in the text. Interviews which aren't quoted from directly would still be used as sources, presumably, and cited appropriately in the end notes.
If you want more of a citation for the interviews claim, then perhaps listing the page numbers for the list of interviews would help. It would be clear then that the hundreds of interviews claim comes from the text, not from some Wikipedia editor.
I find it to be a dangerous game of semantics that you are forcing us to play. I could go on any Wikipedia page on a history book and make every single sentence referring to an author's interview say, "The author claims to have talked to..." The claim wording here is so unnecessary that it betrays an obvious bias. If specific pages can be cited to show that hundreds of people were interviewed, then that should be a credible enough citation. If someone within academia challenged such a citation, then that should be mentioned in the next sentence.
You wrote today that "Speculation from you or I about whether they would be 'brazen' enough to lie about this or exaggerate the level or extent of their research is totally irrelevant." You obviously don't really believe this, since earlier you wrote, "However, most other works don't go around claiming that they had access to previously-unseen footage/primary source material (or conducted hundredds [sic] of interviews with people whom, somehow, more established authors have failed to notice) without providing this material or at least some means of verifying the material." If this isn't you analysis of the likelihood of the interviews having occurred, then I don't know what it is. I should also note that earlier you assumed that Chang wasn't "providing this material or at least some means of verifying the material"--something which isn't true, since she does give all of this bibliographic information. It is clear that these sort of assumptions that you make about Chang's reliability are causing bias to seep into your edits. --Bgaulke 08:13, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Whether I have a bias against Chang is irrelevant - my argument is based on policy. I don't understand your argument about the biliographical information. What does that have to do with conducting interviews? The last time I checked, bibliographical is about books, not people. Do you mean biographical?
Again, it doesn't matter whether I don't believe the claim, or whether you believe the claim. It is a claim, it should not be presented as fact unless it is verifiable. It is not verifiable, therefore it should not be presented as fact.
It's simple enough. That's how Wikipedia runs. --Sumple (Talk) 10:11, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
When I say that Chang provides "bibliographic" information, I am referring to her use of proper citation format (as in, the proper citation format for a bibliography), as defined by the standards of academic writing, to describe her interview sources.
Chang's claim that she conducted hundreds of interviews is as verifiable as any other claim that a scholar makes while providing full citation of the source. In other words, it's pretty damn verifiable; that's the point of a citation. If the interviews that she conducted aren't verifiable, then I would like to know if there's a single interview in the scope of human history that you would consider verifiable.
To put it simply, explain in clear words what the difference is, to you, between a verifiable and an unverifiable interview. An example would also be appreciated. Explain what exactly is so inadequate about Chang's method of documenting her interviews. What would she had to have to done to convince you that these interviews are "verifiable"? --Bgaulke 12:11, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Note: I am saying the claim of hundreds (which I will use henceforth as shorthand for the authors' claim that they conducted hundreds of interviews) is unverifiable, not the interviews themselves - as to that I make no assertion.
This, in my opinion, is the difference between a "verifiable claim of hundreds" and an "unverifiable claim of hundreds": Verifiable means there is sufficient information for a third party to ascertain the truth of the claim, and unverifiable means there isn't. Please see Wikipedia policy at WP:V for where I got that idea from.
Verifiable: the author provides information sufficient to verify that the interviews took place: "I interviewed 256 respondents in preparing this work, and their names and location are listed below: A. A. Aardvark, Helsinki. Bill Abs, Trenton NJ ... [and so on]"
Verifiable: the author asserts that he conducted hundreds of interviews, and a reliable, independent third party source, say a documentary maker who followed him around, agrees.
Verifiable: the author asserts that he conducted hundreds of interviews, and he quotes or otherwise mentions a sufficiently large number of them, and in doing so, provides enough information that a sufficiently well-resourced and motivated third party can, using this information, establish whether not such a number of interviews took place.
Unverfiable: the author asserts that he conducted hundreds of interviews, without more.
Unverfiable: the author asserts that he conducts hundreds of interviews, but quotes or mentions only a handful of those interviewees, although he provides sufficient information to verify that those particular interviews took place.
Unverifiable: the author asserts that he conducts hundreds of interviews, and quotes or mentions a large number of those interviewees, but provides so little information that whether those interviews took place, and whether the state total number of interviews took place, cannot be verified. E.g. if many interviewees are identified only by name.
You are probably thinking "but no author would provide a list of interviewees like that!" And you might be right. But unless they provide information to verify that hundreds of interviews like that, it is not a verifiable claim and under Wikipedia policy, that's what we treat it as: an unverfiable claim, with appropriate source quoted and appropriate qualification ("the author claims") added.
My assertion is that Chang & Halliday's claim falls within the second or the third type of "unverifiable" which I placed above. I know you said that they provided full citations for the interviews they quoted. However, assuming this information is sufficient to verify these interviews, even if they do this for, say, 50 interviewees, that is still a long way from "hundreds".
Again, I should add that adding the qualification ("the authors claim") is not intended to imply that they lied, but is in my opinion what is required by Wikipedia's Verifiability policy. When I said earlier that "if they had quoted hundreds of people that would be okay", what I meant was that if they had quoted hundreds of people that would be prima facie evidence that they did in fact interview hundreds of people. However, ultimately it comes down to verifiability.
So I guess what I'd like to know is:
(1) whether you think I erred in my interpretation of Wikipedia's verifiable facts policy, and if so, where;
(2) whether you think that, despite the above interpretation being correct, I erred in placing Chang & Halliday's "claim of hundreds" in the "unverfiable" category, and if so, why. --Sumple (Talk) 07:10, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
I have not been a Wikipedia editor for long enough to feel comfortable making any claim about (1). That being said, I think that (2) is where I disagree with you. According to the criteria that you have listed, the hundreds of interviews are verifiable. Have you ever looked at the list of interviews in the back of the book? I have. I unfortunately don't have the book in front of my face at the moment, but I can promise you that the list of interviews is between 10 to 20 pages long, perhaps longer. It certainly contains hundreds of citations. The citation for these interviews is scrupulous and meets academic standards; a determined third party could investigate these claims and determined their truth. Finally, I am quite sure that hundreds of interviews are either directly quoted or cited in the endnotes, proving that the interview material was put to good use. --Bgaulke 09:19, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't have the book in front of me, and I don't think I paid attention to the list the last time I looked at the book. So I will defer to what you said. I'll get back to you after I've looked it up. --Sumple (Talk) 12:03, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
That sounds fair. Thanks. --Bgaulke 14:50, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

This sounds very heated but I think in a way you are both right. It is no secret that JC and Halliday have been interviewing people in China for the best part of a decade - anyone working in the field has been hearing about their interviews for years. My point is that she may have carried out the interviews but has chosen not to include thier line of argument or views. The case I know of is that of Prof Frederick Teiwes who was interviewed but disagreed radically with JC's arguments. This was not reflected in the book. Another point is the system of referencing - the referencing system simply does not allow for an easy checking of sources. therefore the interviews may have taken place but what was siad is unavailable. On the question of accuracy - there is a claim in the book that JC remembers most of a multi-page handwritten note and replicates this from memory. That's something I find hard to believe!

Thank you for your opinion; I've found it helpful. If you could give us a source for the anecdote about the handwritten note, that would be helpful. It seems like a good thing to include on the page.
As far as proper citation of interviews, this is what the most recent edition of the MLA handbook had to say: "To cite an interview that you conducted, give the name of the person interviewed, the kind of interview (Personal interview, Telephone interview, E-mail interview), and the date or dates" (203). Chang certainly provides all of this. The problem of not knowing the specific conversation that took place is rather moot, since a transcript of an interview is not a requirement for proper academic citation. This applies both to hack writers, like Chang, and well-respected scholars, like Jonathan Spence. --Bgaulke 02:50, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I have the book right in front of me and here is the breakdown of Chang's bibliographical sections contained in the back:
The section titled "List of Interviewees" is 14 pages long: pg. 623-636.
The section titled "Archives Consulted" is 2 pages long: pg. 637-638.
The section titled "Notes" is 86 pages long: pg. 639-724.
The section titled "Bibliography of Chinese-language Sources" is 28 pages long: pg. 725-752.
The section titled "Bibliography of Non-Chinese-language Sources" is 24 pages long: pg. 753-776.
--The Fwanksta May 19, 2007, 15:31.

Latest additions

Giovanni, the article is about some conference - there is only a small bit about the book. You've already got a link to a review from the same journal - there's no need to add in some throw-away comments. Please don't try to stuff this link in for the sake of it. John Smith's 18:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

And it is just the "small bit" about this book, which I include and which you removed. The article, though is about the content of this conference, and the results of the academics who talked about this book. Their comments, which are referenced, are therefore properly mentioned here in this section. They are qualified academics in the field of China Studies and you can't remove them simply because you don't like their POV. The wording is:

...the Chang and Halliday book was discussed by Professor of Chinese Studies Gao Mobo[3] and Professor of Asian Studies, Kaz Ross[4], who advanced the opinion that "the Chang-Halliday book was only the latest in the genre of "faction" -- fiction with a cloak of facts." [5]Giovanni33 09:11, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

"The School of Asian languages and Studies" - why not the History faculty?
Look, I think you're taking things a bit far. The first seems to teach the Chinese language and some other things, the second politics and society. Neither of these people have written any books about Mao from those links, nor are they historians. Those are throw-away comments that do nothing to improve the article. Just because it's a brief reference doesn't mean it should be included. I let the Pomfret thing go because he had something worthwhile to say - this is completely different. John Smith's 09:35, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Asian Studies is the appropriate field, which encompases Chinese History. You say he teaches "some other things." Well those other things make him quite qualified. These two academics, in fact, are more qualifed than Pomfret, which you accept. To review these "other things":
"Dr. M Gao studied at various universities including Wales, Westminster and Cambridge and holds degrees from Xiamen and Essex. Gao is a frequent speaker on topics of...contemporary Chinese politics and culture at universities such as Oxford, Harvard, Washington Seattle, Hong Kong and mainland China. He has appeared on ABC radio and BBC television and radio commenting on China and Chinese affairs. He has published many research articles in international journals in English and Chinese. His recent publications include three books, Gao Village: Rural Life in Modern China...Dr. Mobo Gao's research interest includes contemporary Chinese politics, Chinese language and grammar, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, rural China, ethnic issues in China, media studies (Western reporting of China) and cultural studies.I also note that his published works, are an assigned textsbook in History courses, such as the highly regarded Reed College's Hist 320 [6]
"Prof. Kaz Ross was educated at the University of Melbourne. Before joining the School in August 2004 she taught at the University of Melbourne, RMIT and Swinburne University in a range of subject areas including social and political theory, Chinese studies, Asian studies and media studies. Kaz’s research interests...revolve around China....She has been a visiting scholar at Peking University, and an editor of the Melbourne Journal of Politics." These qualifications give them the right to have their views on this book included.Giovanni33 17:51, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I accepted Pomfret because you kept bashing on about how his book was all about Mao. I did not say I thought he was qualified simply because he writes on China. Unless you can show me a book on Mao these guys have written I will additionally object on the same grounds I originally objected to Pomfret. But more importantly, as I keep pointing out, they haven't written a review - just made a throw-away comment that adds nothing to the page. John Smith's 17:57, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
Giovanni you ignored my post - please reply separately and address the points. John Smith's 18:32, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
The qualifications of these academics stand for themselves. Their published writings, many of which are assigned texts within university History courses on China, are plain to anyone to bothers to look. You call their comments "throw-away," and "adds nothing," but I disagree. They addressed the book and dismissed the book. That is their POV, and that is an important POV which adds a lot, in my opinion. But its not our POV that matters, its a question of reporting qualified academics within the field of China Studies, who do speak about this book, and report what they say when they address this book--like it or not.Giovanni33 18:36, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I've made my point, but you're ignoring it. There's no more point debating it here. John Smith's 19:10, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

I think we need to get input from the other interested editors on this point and then agree to abide by consensus. If we don't get inpute we can seek a Rfc.Giovanni33 00:27, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps it would be faster if we got a few uninvolved editors/admins to tell us what they think. But if you want to go by consensus, you need to say what that is first (i.e. how you will find it). John Smith's 00:34, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
What exactly is the definition of a "throw-away" comment? (Forgive my ignorance.)--Bgaulke 00:39, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Heh, not sure I can explain easily. Just that it's an unimportant or quickly-thought-up statement that adds little to the topic. John Smith's 00:43, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, you should be able to explain it since that is the basis of your argument. You say its "quickly-thought-up." What evidence do you have to support this claim? And, even if it were true that their opinion about this book was "quickly thought up" how is that a valid standard to employ for determining its acceptable use or not? Last time I checked it was not how quickly a respected academic came up with a POV, it was their credencials to be able to properly speak on the question at hand that mattered. In this case, professors of Asian and China Studies, of which they are. I challenged you to cite the policy whereby we are to use your standard of "quickly thought up" as a reason to exclude.Giovanni33 03:57, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm going to have to take the stance that the quote should be included. I see no reason not to. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bgaulke (talkcontribs) 07:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC).
Giovanni, don't play semantics. I've said several times that I'm objecting because they're not historians, they haven't written books on Mao and their comments are brief and not nearly useful enough to warrant a place. Just because they teach stuff on China doesn't mean they're qualified to comment. John Smith's 08:54, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Quite frankly, these two scholars are as qualified to make their comments as Chang and Halliday were to write their book (neither Chang nor Halliday is a Chinese historian by training, education, or background). If we are to let Chang and Halliday have their say on Wikipedia (and we should), then we should allow similarly qualified detractors or supporters have their own say as well. --Bgaulke 12:16, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
First of all Halliday is a historian. But more importantly the two are qualified because they have researched the book and explained their position in detail. That is not the case with the others - there is no evidence they have researched Mao themselves and are just throwing in cheap comments with no basis. John Smith's 13:47, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Gao and Ross were not just speaking off the cuff--they were delivering a paper at an academic conference on the topic of historical representation of Mao. I am sure that they must have researched Mao if they were in such a position as to give this presentation at a conference.
In fairness, I think the quote from the webpage should be elongated to include the bit about how Ross thinks the Cultural Revolution is a good thing. This clearly biases his perspective against the mainstream of Chinese historical studies, not just Chang. It is important to see that the presenters are so far to the left as to support the Cultural Revolution, because it means that from a more moderate historical perspective, their opinion is compromised. (To use a cumbersome analogy, it would be like a Holocaust denier giving a bad review of a biography on Hitler; most historians and laymen would take such a review with a grain of salt.) --Bgaulke 17:24, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
While I agree with you regarding the inclusion of the quotes about this book made by these academics, I don't think we need to try to 'bias" the reader because of other "left" possitions they take. We can characterize their work, if they are out of the mainstream, but we have to be careful how we do it. I prefer simply to attach the links. I don't think your characterization of them are accurate. I dispute that they "support" the CR; they take a mixed, nuanced view, looking at the positives and negatives of this complex period (the complete opposite of the simplisitic methodology employed by Chang). If you read his actual paper on the CR, which I've looked at, you'd find his overall assessment is in line with the consensus among China Studies, i.e., a negative one but not in white and black terms. His POV is well within the bounds of what is regarded as legitimate in the field, unlike some revisionist Holocaust Denier. Thus that analogy is not a valid one.Giovanni33 18:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
For those interested here are some scholarly publications by Dr. Gao that are peer reviewed, concerning the CR, which support my assesement, above:
  • Gao, Mobo C. F. "Maoist Discourse and a Critique of the Present Assessments of the Cultural Revolution." Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 26.3 (1994);
  • "Memoirs and Interpretation of the Cultural Revolution." Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 27.1 (1995);
  • "Debating the Cultural Revolution: Do We Only Know What We Believe?" Critical Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3 (September 2002).
Other notable facts are that he is reguarly featured in scholarly conferences on this topic, and required reading in history courses within highly esteemed colleges and universities. For example: "Roundtable: China Studies 40 Years After the Cultural Revolution Discussants: Mobo Gao, University of Tasmania, Australia; Emily Honig, University of California at Santa Cruz; Dongping Han, Warren Wilson College; Zheng Wang, University of Michigan; Michael Dutton, University of Melbourne, Australia; Gary Sigley, University of Western Australia, Australia 2006 marks the 40th anniversary of an event that has profoundly affected both the P.R.C. and China Studies’ understanding of the Mao and post-Mao era: the Cultural Revolution. This international roundtable brings together distinguished scholars of both the era and of the field of China Studies itself, to reflect on current CR scholarship and its consequences for our knowledge of China and for China Studies.See: 19:20, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Impressive research. I'll have to rescind what I said about them being out of the mainstream. I personally would vigorously disagree with their conclusions, but that has no bearing on whether they are credible academics or whether their perspective on Chang should be included. --Bgaulke 19:35, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Well I still don't think it should go in - maybe you should start an RfC. John Smith's 18:29, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

That won't be necessary if we get the other editors who usually edit here to give their opinion. You can send them messages and alert them of this issue. Then you will have to abide by the consensus of the editors, so the page can be unlocked. If you still dispute it you can seek a Rfc, instead of edit waring.Giovanni33 18:56, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I have been told many times that consensus isn't the same as a super-majority. John Smith's 19:28, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
No, but its something that you are supposed to respect in terms of not edit waring, and if you want you can seek a Rfc. I have notified other editors who have been involved and interested in editing on China issues. If there is a consensus to keep, I think you should not remove it until you get consensus to do so. This is so we can get this page unlocked.Giovanni33 19:36, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
It isn't actually something I am supposed to expect. Wikipedia asks that consensus is gained, which can't happen if people don't agree with the outcome. "Voting" is useful to see if there is consensus, but not to gain it. John Smith's 19:57, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Consensus is general agreement, not absolute. If you are the only one objecting, your supposed to accept the results of general consensus in so far as that means not making the contested change to the article until such general consensus changes. I am willing to abide by consensus, why can't you say the same?Giovanni33 20:26, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
According to wikipedia consensus is not general and there is no obligation to accept the result. How can I accept consensus if there is none? Giovanni, I don't know - maybe it's because I'm tired of always agreeing to whatever it is you want. Maybe it would be nice for you to agree to what I want. John Smith's 20:39, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Given the evidence Giovanni has provided, it would seem the two people are scholarly sources. John Smith's, is there some WP policy out there that states that an academic must have had written a book about a subject before they are considered credible sources? Or what is your objection in light of what Giovanni has provided as the two people's knowledge of Mao and modern China? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 04:18, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I have lots of other "scholarly sources" I could have added - but I chose not to, rather than spam the sub-section. There is no policy as you mention, but Giovanni seems to keep changing the goalposts. First he said Pomfret was ok because he was a China commentator and had written on Mao - now it seems to be that these guys are ok because they teach subjects related to Chinese politics. I think that is far too tenuous a link. Just because you are a "scholar" doesn't mean you actually know that much about the matter in question. John Smith's 15:24, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
So basically you still think these two people are not credible enough to be added to the article, is that the gist of it? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 15:30, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
It isn't as simple as saying whether they're "credible" - I'm sure they know a lot about Chinese language & politics. But have they done any hard research into Mao like Pomfret? They're not historians - being an academic isn't the same.
In addition I feel that such short comments seem to be a reaction to the book itself rather than by a thorough assessment of its content - they're like soundbites to me. The article isn't a review, it's a summary of some sort of meeting. Also there is no information on what other people said at the time, whether these people have read the book, etc. The comments are just too vague and don't have enough context. John Smith's 15:57, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
So you feel they are not reliable sources because they're not academically trained historians? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 16:08, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
That is not a reason to ignore what someone has to say. I made it quite clear in my last message.
They're not historians, they haven't written and researched on Mao, the comments in the article are not nearly detailed enough to understand what their justifications and thoughts, there's no evidence they've even read the book and the article was a summary of a conference, not giving voice to the opinions of any others. That's just based on what I know so far. You don't need to have all those things dealt with, but given none of them are addressed I'm not happy with admitting them at the moment. John Smith's 16:19, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
So you feel a person must have written about Mao in order to be admitted as sources of commentary on Mao: The Unknown Story? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 16:37, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Hong, I have made my views quite clear - I won't repeat myself again. John Smith's 16:41, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually I'm not sure under what criteria you do not think the two scholars are not reliable sources. There does not seem to be any policy that an academic be historians (academically trained or not) to be allowed as sources on a an article about a biographical book. I don't know if they've researched specifically about Mao himself, but their credentials show that they have researched on modern Chinese history. Similarly, a couple of the commentors that are included in the article, Perry Link and Michael Yahuda, do not seem to have written specifically about Mao, but they have obviously done research on modern Chinese history. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 16:55, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
The two guys you mentioned have provided detailed reviews - these two people have provided a soundbite - it's not the same. Every comment we have had so far is from a proper review, bar Short who I think is ok as he wrote directly on Mao himself. Also the institutions they study at are wildly different - Princeton and LSE, versus the University of Tasmania.
I have also re-checked the article. It appears these two people were the only ones attending the discussion, and there are no comments from Gao (so why should he be mentioned?). Only Ross is mentioned, and given the very loaded question mentioned I think the references are also highly POV now. At best the article is reporting on what it wants to put across - at worst this "discussion" was a thinly veiled artifical attempt to attack the book (the publisher is linked to the group that set up this conference). John Smith's 18:02, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
That's a good point that Gao and Ross didn't actually write reviews of the book. But it's a highly POV to imply that Link and Yahuda are more credible because they are associated with Princeton and LSE respectively. Actually, looking at Yahuda's list of publications and professional bio, I think he's less qualified of a historian than Gao and Ross. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 19:56, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok, maybe there's a little bit of snobbery over their universities. But M. Yahuda does work in international and Chinese politics, whereas Gao as I said seems to focus on Chinese language. John Smith's 22:50, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
You are ignoring all the evidence I provided which shows that Prof. Gao is also quite distinguished as a scholar on Chinese Studies, which include Chinese politics and history. Some of his texts are even assigned in university history courses. Thus, his opinon is notable. Stop pretending you don't see that.Giovanni33 23:06, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
I am now in communications with the Professor who authored the article, and he is putting me in contact with Prof. Gao and the organizer of the conference. I will attempt to obtain the actual papers and discussion by these two academics so that we would be able to quote them directly. I'll keep you posted on what I am able to obtain from them.Giovanni33 22:48, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Take a look at this short professional bio of Gao[7] -

Dr M Gao studied at various universities including Wales, Westminster and Cambridge and holds degrees from Xiamen and Essex. Gao is a frequent speaker on topics of Chinese language and contemporary Chinese politics and culture at universities such as Oxford, Harvard, Washington Seattle, Hong Kong and mainland China. He has appeared on ABC radio and BBC television and radio commenting on China and Chinese affairs. He has published many research articles in international journals in English and Chinese. His recent publications include three books, Gao Village: Rural Life in Modern China (1999), An Introduction to Mandarin Chinese (2000) and A Reference Grammar of Mandarin Chinese (2000)

I don't think he'd be invited to speak at schools like Oxford and Harvard on contemporary Chinese politics if he was not considered knowledgeable in the subject, or invited to speak on major media outlets like ABC and NBC, for that matter. And take a look at his list of publication[8]. He has written exhaustively on non-language related articles about China. Ok, it still doesn't look like he wrote a published article about this book. But just looking at his professional body of work, he is easily more or at least as credible a source as Yahuda. And you talked about how Gao and Ross are not historians - well it looks like neither is Yahuda a historian and he hasn't written books on Mao either. He's a scholar on international relations. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 23:09, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

First of all, Gao's bibliography as you list isn't impressive - again, it seems to be about Chinese language. Let's also remember that we're not talking about contemporary Chinese history, are we? Also, as I said before, the article has no quotes from him. John Smith's 23:14, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
And it would appear that Yahuda's biliography[9] is even less impressive than that of Gao's. I'm trying to establish exactly what criteria you're using where Yahuda qualifies but Gao does not. We're not talking about international relations either, so should we take Yahuda out? Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 23:17, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
"International relations" is a generic title - much of his work is on China, as you can see from his bibliography. He has also written a detailed review of the book in question for a broadsheet newspaper. Neither Gao nor Ross have done that. Plus how is Gao's bibliography more impressive - his university page says he has only written three books recently, two on Mandarin Chinese. John Smith's 23:23, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
You ignore two other books he is working on: Gao Village: Rural Life since 1996, And, The Cultural Revolution: A Debate.This means that MOST of the books he has or is working on is NOT about language, but about China's politics and its history. When you add this to his many other published historical and political articles about China in peer reviewed academic journals, then his qualifications are beyond question.Giovanni33 00:27, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
You can say the same thing about Gao. As you can see from his bibliography, much of his work is on China. And maybe Yahuda's bibliography is missing something, but he hasn't written any books. His writing has all been articles for journals and magazines. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 00:13, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Dr. Gao wrote me, and informs me that is he working on a book on Mao, the man: "I have been writing a book on the topic of Mao the man, the Cultural Revolution, the Mao era and the post-Mao reform. In that book I will have two chapters detailing criticism of Mao the Unknown story and their sensationalist claims. You can quote me if you want: the book is NOT scholarship by any meaningful standard, it is a fiction dressed up as history."Giovanni33 15:31, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Page protected due to edit warring

This page is now protected due to edit warring. Please discuss the issue then contact me once you've reached a decision on what to do. --Deskana (talk) 22:57, 26 March 2007

I cannot believe the amount of bias held in this article (and even more bias held in the book itself). Please, go ask a team of historians, I don't care if they're western or Chinese, to go and examine the authenticity and credibility of the book. I can write you a book with 10 years of research about how Deng Xiaoping's reforms were bad for Chinese society and the world, and about how Jiang Zemin had sex with singer Song Zuying. I can portray Deng and Jiang as even more evil and despicable than Mao. But what the hell is the point? What is history when it only portrays a historical personality in a singular, narrow-minded fashion? Colipon+(T) 04:57, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand what your complaint exactly is. How can you say this article is biased in favor of the book when multiple source discrediting the book are referred to? Please try to be more constructive in your criticism. --Bgaulke 14:48, 28 March 2007 (UTC)
The intro, for one, is crap. Colipon+(T) 04:13, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Your criticism is still tremendously unconstructive. What about the intro is "crap"? You should not wildly make statements like that without providing explanation. --Bgaulke 06:15, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
You're right. I shouldn't. At least I don't go ahead and publish tremendously unconstructive and wildly-made statements and disguise them as facts. Colipon+(T) 20:32, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I think you should, Colipon. Ignorant WesternersThose westerners who are ignorant will gobble it up and you'll be a millionaire! I should too. --Sumple (Talk) 07:12, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
You guys are so cute. Us laowai just love to be condescended to. --Bgaulke 07:39, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
See? I knew someone was going to play the race card. Anyway, it's not my fault that Westerners seem to love sensationalistic and grossly inaccurate books... and THEN GIVE POSITIVE REVIEWS OF IT!!!!11one11!.
Laowai is such a crass word. Nobody says that where I come from. --Sumple (Talk) 10:05, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for using "laowai"--it was inappropriate. I was offended however. The race card was not played until you guys started talking about "Westerners." It's fine if you want to say that Westerners (or some Westerners) are ignorant; it's offensive that you would say so without giving any sort of nod to corresponding ignorances that many Chinese people have. From my experiences in both countries, I think it's fair and accurate to say that the majority of people in both China and America do not know history well at all. --Bgaulke 10:28, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Bgaulke is right - Chinese people can be just as "ignorant" and swallow bad history just as easily, whether it's about China or another country. It undermines the positions of you two if you bring race into the matter. John Smith's 10:37, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Ergh... I think I made it clear that I wasn't saying "Westerners are ignorant" when I changed it to "those Westerners who are ignorant". I mean, I apologise if you were offended, but seriously, the book made it to the top of the charts in Britain and elsewhere. Its Chinese version never did in wherever it was available - e.g. Hong Kong.
I'm not saying Chinese people aren't ignorant - of course many of them are. That, however, has no bearing on the point I was making. Plus, a "Westerner" is not a racial concept. It's a cultural one. "Westerners" are made up of many different races (all the races of the world, probably) but are identified by cultural commonalities.
Anyway, I realised what I said was completely off-topic, so I apologise, and let us end the discussion here. --Sumple (Talk) 23:27, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Back to the real issue

Glad this distraction is over with. Back to the issue, I take it that no one here disagrees with the valididty of including these academic's view of this book, except one person--Smith? If that is indeed the case, then I suggest we contact that admin and ask for unprotection. If Smith is alone he can not hold up the whole article.
You can argue there is consensus, but I won't nor will I go with that you say. John Smith's 10:25, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
Btw, I have obained the actual papers written by these university professors as presented in the conference, and can confirm that their characterization by this article/link is accurate. Apparently these papers are being used to form a chapter of a book being currently worked on. Ross's paper is actually a very thoughough review of the book as well, and intersting. I'm hoping to find this online
so it can be linked to. Its entitled, "Mao, the all-too familiar story." Gao's paper asks that I obtain permission before citing the paper--it was sent to me by the organizer of the confrence but Dr. Gao was cc'ed in the email, and my e-mail did state my wanting to quote directly. However, Ross's paper makes no restrictions and we may want to cite some passages, which I'll present here first.
The paper also lists other responses. The Critical section lists the following, some of which I think this article is missing, and we might want to research and include:
  • Joseph Esherick, et al. ‘A Critical Assessment of Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story.’ Website <
  • Hamish Macdonald ‘A swan’s little book of ire’ Sydney Morning Herald, October 8th, 2005.
  • Andrew Nathan ‘Jade and Plastic’ London Review of Books Vol. 27, No. 2 17th November, 2005.
  • ‘Mao: The Unknown Story – An Assessment The China Journal No.55 Jan 2006
  • Gregor Benton and Steve Tsang ‘The Portrayal of Opportunism, Betrayal and Manipulation in Mao’s Rise to Power.’
  • Timothy Cheek ‘The Number One Counter-Revolutionary Inside the Party: Academic Biography as Mass Criticism.’ p. 109.
  • Lowell Dittmer ‘The Pitfalls of Charisma’ p.119.
  • Geremie R. Barmé ‘I’m so Ronree.’ p.128

Giovanni33 08:09, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Andrew Nathan is already mentioned - Hamish MacDonald is a writer without any academic references as far as I can see, though his article is also listed. John Smith's 10:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Hamish McDonald is a journalist[10] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bgaulke (talkcontribs)

New edits

Seeing that the page was no longer protected, I added the Gao and Ross section. There is a strong consensus for its inclusion. I see no salient reason to disagree.
There is something lopsided about the criticisms of the book that this page presents, since most of them are negative. I believe that this lopsidedness is for two reasons: 1. most of the criticisms out there are negative, 2. most of the people editing this page are more interested in negative criticisms because they dislike the book.
People upset about the number of negative criticisms would do better to add positive criticisms that they discover, as opposed to simply removing negative criticisms that the editing community thinks should be included.
I also made minor edits to the introduction, including a bit on the controversy surrounding the book.
On a more general level, I would like to lament the partisanship of the editors recently involved in this project. To grossly overgeneralize, it is clear that the "anti-Maoists" are me and John Smith and the "pro-Maoists" are Sumple and Giovanni, as well as Colipon and Hong Qigong. It is, of course, to be expected that people would have ideological affiliations, but it is distressing that none of us, more or less, seem to have done a good job being fair to the other side, both in our edits and on the talk page. I don't say this to point fingers or to start an argument, but to say that I think we can, should, and owe it to each other to do better in the future. People with biases against Chang's book should not instinctively fight against all edits made by people biased towards the book, and vice versa. Every editor should cast a critical, fair, and generous eye on all edits of all varieties. I'm sorry if I'm sounding pedantic, naive, negative, or unnecessarily blunt, but these are my thoughts at this point. Make no mistake: I have enjoyed working with all of you and I look forward to continuing to do so. I do think that we have accomplished things that we should be proud of, and that the page is gradually becoming a better and better resource. --Bgaulke 05:06, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Consensus is not a super-majority. John Smith's 11:03, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Oi, I'm not a pro-Maoist! I want an apology. I'm anti-Chang, but that does not mean I'm pro-Mao. In fact, I'm just as anti-Mao as the next man, the next man not being Jung Chang.
Plus, my anti-Chang sentiments are not some superficial ideological attachment ( = Communist brainwashing) or nationalistic fanaticism. I just don't like people who make a buck out of generalisingsimplifying an entire people's complex experiences, no matter what race or creed they are. --Sumple (Talk) 12:40, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry Sumple, I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers. I realized, as I said, that I was "grossly overgeneralizing" when I wrote "pro-Mao" and "anti-Mao." I understand what you mean: there's a middle ground between supporting a poor piece of anti-Mao scholarship and thinking that the Cultural Revolution is the greatest thing since sliced bread. --Bgaulke 18:45, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Guys, let's not have another argument, please. Sumple, Bgaulke was only trying to show what he saw as the partisan attitude on the article, even if it was very crude. He wasn't making a personal dig at you. John Smith's 13:48, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

No more "get out of jail free" cards

Ok, Giovanni, I am tired with your silly reversions. You have demonstrated no real willingness to compromise, just push your own POV. I compromised, yet you continue to insist on having your way. If you continue with this course of action I will have to assume bad faith on your part and ignore any further attempts by you to discuss matters and reach agreement. John Smith's 19:29, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

There is on compromise needed for many things: NPOV, V, etc. These are policies which should never be compromised. You have no choice but to abide by the overwhelming consensus. I suggest that if you can't convince any of the other editors here that you are right, that you stop your reverting, which is what is indeed silly, since it doesn't get you anywhere. Also, it appears you are violating the 3RR rule again, this time by using an IP address. Do you deny that is your IP address?Giovanni33 19:43, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Of course I deny it - as I said on your talk page it's from Hungary (use an IP tracker from a google search). Obviously that guy disagrees with you and Hong. John Smith's 19:45, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
So, how is Budapest? I'm not as stupid as you seem to think.Giovanni33 20:01, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm fully aware of how to use a WHOIS to check the origin of an IP address, but for everybody's sake, including that of John Smith's, I've filed a check user report.[11] Note - I didn't file it as an accusation, and I'm fully aware that the IP came from Hungary. I filed it to make it official to everyone whether or not John Smith's and the IP editor are the same person. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 20:03, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

For some reason I doubt it will satisfy Giovanni....... John Smith's 20:12, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Your "for some reason" is just common sense. So, your doubt is correct. In my opinion, the evidence is very strong in this case--even if it is not absolute proof--and even if you are not the same person. Getting someone else who is not an established user to edit war for you, counts. It's too much of a coincidence, otherwise.Giovanni33 20:20, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, wikipedia isn't a witch-hunt - unless you have evidence, you have nothing. John Smith's 20:45, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, looks like Deskana would agree with me on that one. John Smith's 23:47, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't know how you've inferred anything from my protection of the page. All I've said is that there's edit warring, I'm not siding with either of you. I've not even read the article... --Deskana (ya rly) 23:48, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

The edit war really seems ridiculous to me. John, you keep saying that no one compromises besides you, but that's clearly not true. Sumple let stand your introductory paragraph revisions, Giovanni allowed my inclusion of Sun Shuyun in the Luding Bridge section, the claim wording has been dropped from the hundreds of interviews sentence, etc. Plenty of compromises have been made by everyone who is working on this page. It's time to move on. Good work was accomplished today until the page was protected. It's frustrating that we have to halt our efforts again. --Bgaulke 02:57, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Bgaulke my comments were directed towards Giovanni, not anyone else - Sumple can be very good at accepting other users' proposals. If Gio wants to compromise he should be willing to discuss the matter with me, rather than try to get the block lifted without consultation on the talk page and use nonsense justification as to why no changes should be made like the NPOV and vandalism rules. John Smith's 09:22, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Page protected AGAIN due to edit warring

Once more, this page is now protected due to edit warring. Please discuss the issue then contact me once you've reached a decision on what to do. --Deskana (talk) 23:44, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Unprotected now... --Deskana (ya rly) 15:48, 9 April 2007 (UTC)


Omg another protection? Well, in any case I have no problems with John Smith's latest version of the second paragraph. But I don't agree that either sentence needs citations, because detailed references are supplied further in the article. Perhaps just a reference or a link to the relevant section? --Sumple (Talk) 00:10, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

That'd do me. Having uncited stuff in the leading paragraph isn't good, even if there are citations further on in the article. Linking them up would be nice. --Deskana (ya rly) 00:12, 5 April 2007 (UTC)
I had a different idea that we could mentioned one person for each piece - but a quick reference would also be good. John Smith's 00:15, 5 April 2007 (UTC)