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BOOKS

I HAVE CHOSEN TO STAY AND FIGHT
Margaret Cho
Best Social Commentary

Stay and Fight Even if you aren't a liberal activist you can expect plenty of belly laughs from the slyly hyperbolic efficiency with which Margaret Cho sends up George W. Bush and his era. Bush could be compared to Adolf Hitler if he weren't “such an underachiever”, quips Margaret Cho. This book doesn't let you forget that its author is a standup comic by reflex and training — or that she's an overweight Asian American lesbian — but it often surprises by the precision with which it pokes fun at the calcified assumptions that underpin much of the right wing value system. Some readers may be tempted to call Cho the voice of dispossessed Americans. She is more a fearless guerilla leader biding her time for the opportunity to ignite a revolution to clear American society of the last vestiges of its hypocrisy — the glaring divide between its stated ideals and the much darker reality engendered by its routine practices.

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MAO: THE UNKNOWN STORY
Jung Chang and John Halliday
Best Great Leader-cum-Monster Biography

Mao Three generations of Americans have accepted on faith that, regardless of his political ideology, Mao Tse-tung was a great leader who delivered a billion Chinese from imperialist degradation. Now comes a book that does more to shake that faith than any before. Quite convincingly it portrays Mao as a sadistic monster driven purely by an unholy hunger for power. Human life meant nothing to him, even that belonging to comrades, siblings, wives, or even children. He once bragged of his willingness to sacrifice half of China for the sake of putting himself atop a nuclear superpower. He didn't have to sacrifice that many, but Chang and Halliday convince us that Mao did pave his road to power with 90 million Chinese corpses. Their case is based on painstaking interviews with dozens of Chinese and foreigners who witnessed Mao at close quarters during key moments of his ascent. If Mao was indeed a greater monster and far better PR manipulator than Stalin or Hitler, the reader can't help wondering what other great leaders have been the beneficiaries of monumental media manipulation.