In This Review

Maoism: A Global History
Maoism: A Global History
By Julia Lovell
624 pp, Knopf, 2019

Mao Zedong and Maoism—the ideology of peasant revolution guided by an all-knowing sage—inspired insurgent movements in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere. Mao’s thought enjoyed periodic popularity among intellectuals in Western cities, such as Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, and Rome. Each version of the Maoist creed was principally articulated by middle-class intellectuals who wanted to lead and speak for the suffering masses. Lovell traces this wide-ranging history with a sharp eye for social setting and personality. But it is unlikely that the Mao mystique gave China as much influence over world events as Lovell claims. Mao often served as a symbol for activists who did things their own way, including the Black Panthers in the United States and the Shining Path in Peru. But this sparkling account demonstrates the skill of Chinese propagandists and the pliability and reach of Mao’s image and ideas, even in the years when China was most isolated.