Becoming Madame Mao


A fictional portrait of Jiang Ching, one of the most vilified women of the century, follows the life of Madame Mao, from her youth as the unwanted daughter of a concubine, to her search for fame as an actress in Shanghai, to her romance and marriage to revolutionary Mao Zedong, to her role in the turbulent Communist rule of China. By the author of Red Azalea. (

Year of Publication
First Mariner Books
ISBN Number
Average: 5 (1 vote)


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Fast-paced Insight into Madame Mao and Mr. Mao

Field of Interest/Specialty: Film / English
Posted On: 06/01/2022
What level educator are you? High, University
Usefulness as a Student or Classroom Resource: This is very useful
Usefulness as an Educator Resource: Very Useful
Have you actually used this resource? Not yet, but I plan to

Of Anchee Min's novels, I think this is her best written.  It makes extraordinary use of two competing voices to tell the story of Madame Mao: an omniscient third-person historian and a severely flawed first-person narrator who already knows her own future.  Rarely do books explore the Mao years through the perspective of the women in 'power' and hardly ever in the English canon do we get a glimpse of Mao as a human being with human being flaws.

The prose is clipped and cutting and deep.  The story can be read and analyzed from a multitude of perspectives, as a work of literature, as a starting point for historical research, as a script, as a polemic, and much more.  I would recommend reading it for the pleasure of a good read, for the purpose of infusing it into the classroom, and/or to gain some cursory historical knowledge of the (Madame) Mao Years.

Due to some of the more mature material, this would do best if used in the older levels.