Mao Zedong, first chairman of the People's Republic of China, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, and the architect of the Cultural Revolution, was active in Chinese politics for most of his 82 years, and became one of the most important revolutionary figures of the 20th century. He spent the 1920s and 1930s struggling to build the Party. After the establishment of the People's Republic, he strove to impose his vision of socialism on his impoverished country, convinced that if the power of the people could be harnessed, China could become an economically successful and egalitarian society. The Great Leap Forward which he initiated was, however, a disaster resulting in millions of deaths. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to reimpose his authority, his critics were persecuted and a personality cult was fostered. His Little Red Book sold over 740 million copies.
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