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               HISTORY-MAKING "MAO"

MAN on the BALCONY: Diary of a Contradictory Life
will be my next book. Below are mid-1960s entries:

February, 1965, Melbourne, Australia
Rupert Murdoch edits with a blue pencil a series of six articles on my trip to China. They go in his brand-new Canberra newspaper, with many pictures. He pays me in pounds rather than guineas (the British affectation still common in Australia). He says on the phone The Australian is losing money so he can only afford 30 pounds for the six pieces.

When the New Zealand Herald reprints the series without permission Murdoch, who’s only in his 30s, goes after the Auckland daily, exacts money, and writes to me: "I hope the enclosed check for twenty pounds will make you feel happier."
With these six newspaper articles in The Australian, the nation’s first-ever national daily, I feel China may have launched me on a journey. I wrote at the end of my sixth article for Rupert in February 1965: “All around the world, from Singapore to San Francisco, you see pockets of Chinese society. But only in China do you find the civilization in its power and its old and beautiful setting. Only in China do you realize what the Chinese as a race and a nation must increasingly mean. Just as once in the past, long before the present barren era of clashing ideologies and wrenching divisions, China was the greatest power on earth, so in the future she may become so again.”

August, 1965, Melbourne
Gough Whitlam, deputy leader of the Labor Party, is jacking up his fight with the leftwing Victoria State party establishment over “unity tickets.” I am a junior helper. Today, at Gough’s suggestion I put my six ounces into the fray by resigning as vice-chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Victorian branch. Reporting this, Bulletin magazine calls me “Victorian Labor intellectual Ross Terrill.” That’s a first! I thought I was just a student.

I want to study China at a world-class university. But I also want to throw myself into Labor Party politics. Can I do both? A friend or two say No.

Anyway, here I’m on Gough’s side. You don’t win parliamentary elections if your candidates are heavy with Marxist baggage. Unity tickets are a United Front tactic of the Australian Communist Party and such parties across the globe. In trade union elections, the CP and our ALP run joint candidates. EGW opposes this and so do I. The Communists are trying to get respectability, via a back door.

August, 1965, Melbourne
The London School of Economics and Harvard have both offered me a fellowship to do a Ph. D. Goodness, the boy from Bruthen as a Doctor of Philosophy? Not likely. Having read Professor John Fairbank's Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast in a Melbourne history course inclines me to choose Harvard, where he teaches. I also have a hunch that life in the U.S. might suit my temperament better than life in "Mother England," as my grandmother calls Britain. Mac Ball, an Anglophile, won’t be pleased.

Harvard’s offer is the Frank Knox Fellowship, which goes to the best graduate student applicant each year from any part of “the British Commonwealth of Nations.” Knox, in FDR’s cabinet as navy secretary, was an Anglophile. The Knox apparently is hard to turn down – and I don’t want to.

September 9, 1965, Melbourne
But the prickly China issue in U.S. politics almost cancels my plans for Harvard. As I pack, American officials in Melbourne deny me a visa because I oppose the Vietnam War, favor recognition of Beijing and favor nuclear disarmament. "Your views are incompatible with the American national purpose," wrote Consul Lin Roork, as precise as a surgeon telling me I belonged to the wrong blood group.

Carrying her letter of denial, I take a green Melbourne tram to the U.S. Consulate-General, pondering the phrase "American national purpose." She allows me to make my case. Ms. Roork asks if I’ve been to China, and I admit to this offense. She pushes a stapled sheaf of papers across the desk. "Is that your signature on a petition to the United States government protesting our testing of nuclear weapons?" Yes. "Do you see who signed the petition next after you?" I recognize the name of a well-known Melbourne Communist. Miss Roork is not impressed when I say you never know who might sign a petition after you.

It is not my counter argument but the intervention of the Labor Party that reverses the verdict. The Leader of the Opposition, Arthur Calwell, writes to the American ambassador in Canberra saying I am a social democrat with no Communist connections. Miss Roork backs down graciously and gives me a visa.

Tokyo to San Francisco, September 21, 1965
Some months ago the prospect of study in the United States seemed exciting. A dynamic and culturally marvelous place. But tonight, waiting at Tokyo International Airport for a Northwest flight, I am flat. Since leaving Australia 12 days ago, for stops in Asia, Americans have often horrified me. They trample upon Asia. They do not listen. They know only the way of dominance. In Singapore they try to manipulate Lee Kuan Yew through the CIA. In Saigon their huge machines fail to prevail against Ho Chi Minh’s simple soldiers. Japan they still view as a tamed colony. In Hong Kong they strut as if to buy and sell the globe. Perhaps they almost can. Am I too harsh?

It’s a funny mood to begin a career as a graduate student at Harvard.

September, 1965, Cambridge
Arriving in Boston with just a few hours to register at Harvard and find accommodation, I see a notice on a bulletin board. "Mr. J. Vincent" offers a room in his house for rent. Unaware of what lies ahead, I spend my first night in Massachusetts under the roof of a celebrated victim of the American "Loss of China" in 1949. "Mr. J. Vincent" was John Carter Vincent, formerly of the State Department and posts all over China, before being dismissed by John Foster Dulles.

Sitting in front of Professor Fairbank's desk, I propose a Ph. D thesis on the 19th century political philosopher Kang Youwei. "How is your Classical Chinese?" Fairbank shoots back, poker-faced. Having just begun modern Chinese language class, I realize I must wait years to read Kang in old Chinese. But a shiver of delight runs down my spine at meeting the man who founded the study of modern Chinese history in the U.S.

From my rented room in John Carter Vincent's house, I trudge through snow to my classes in Chinese from a Taiwan teacher, Chinese history from Fairbank, and political philosophy from famous scholars. I feel small and alone in this vast world of Harvard. I doubt I can succeed against its fierce competition and high standards.

I have to get used to the Taiwan-orientation of China studies here. In Australia few take notice of Taiwan, but Cambridge is different. I don't think Chiang Kai-shek's regime in Taiwan is China, but the U.S. government and many Americans do.

Warsaw, July 1966
Our Trade Mission is throwing a reception to celebrate a Poland-Australia Trade Agreement. It happens I’m in Europe on a break from Harvard. I walk into the party. Poles are talking to Poles; Australians yarn to Australians; Italians, French and others form a third cluster. Fortunately, the tables are laden and the wine flows.

Jack McEwen, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, nods gravely as a Silesian boasts of Polish chickens and hams. The head of the Department of Trade moves affably from guest to guest and rapidly from vodka to vodka. An Australian Trade man from Vienna, in Warsaw to make arrangements, is perambulating two attractive Australian secretaries.

The Australian group approach Warsaw gingerly, with astonishment that people walk on two legs and cars run on four wheels. "I didn't expect nice hotels," one secretary says, her glass at forty-five degrees.

A rural conservative, McEwen, looking impressive as usual, shakes hands with everyone within sight, signing paper after paper, nodding further. I remark to him that it seems to go well. Pleased, the Deputy Prime Minister takes another vodka and details the troubles of the opposition Labor Party. "Their chaos is far from over,” he declares of my party. His secretaries beam. I frown.

A Polish official rushes up; "The Agreement is for four years, yes?" Our man in Vienna is unsure, at this stage. Mr. McEwen rescues him—it is indeed for four years. "We can say it is for about four years," a female secretary says gaily.
"Reuters is on the phone," the Polish official explains as he flees with the answer.

A Polish official corners me on hams. "You know why our hams are so good? Because our farms are small, and the pigs get a variety of food. In the West your farms are big, and the food is monotonous. All the world buys our hams." Then comes the barb, "The world buys our hams, without any fuss, but Australia obstructs this trade with sanitary regulations. As if our hams are not clean."

I point out Australia is sensitive about the import of diseases, witness our quarantine policy on horses, dogs and birds. "But our hams are not alive like race-horses," the Pole countered, "they are dead, in cans."

are entries from mid-1960s:



"MADAM MAO" (New Word City)


Ross's first E-Book title with

The explosive biography “"Madame Mao" has just been published as an E-book by Price $9.99.

One of Ross’s most popular books, The-Australians: The Way We Live Now
is now available in Kindle for $9.99


I. Books
Wo yu Zhongguo ("Myself and China"), China Renmin University Press, Beijing (2011)

The New Chinese Empire, Basic Books, New York (2003), paperback, 2004. Chinese edition, Ars Longa, Taipei (2004). Australian edition, University of New South Wales Press (2003). Estonian edition (2006).Korean edition, CFE Seoul (2006).

The Australians: The Way We Live Now, Random House, Sydney (2000).

China in Our Time, Simon & Schuster (1992), Touchstone paperback, 1993. Revised, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Chinese edition (Silk Road, Taipei). Excerpted in Newsweek, World Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe.

The Australians, Simon & Schuster (1987), Touchstone paperback (1988). British edition (Bantam), Japanese edition (Jiji). Excerpted in l'Actualité (Montreal), Sawasdee (Bangkok), Straits Times (Singapore), Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Adelaide Advertiser, Northern Territory News.

The White Boned Demon: A Biography of Madame Mao Zedong, William Morrow (1984), Bantam paperback, 1985. Touchstone edition (revised and updated), 1992. Revised as Madame Mao, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Revised as Madame Mao, Stanford University Press (1999). British edition (Heinemann), French edition (Ramsay), Indonesian edition, Spanish edition (Vergara), Chinese edition (Hebei renmin chubanshe), Italian edition (Frassinelli). Excerpted in Paris Match, Elle (Paris), Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Melbourne Age, Zhong Gong Wen Ti (Taipei), Adelaide Advertiser, Kodansha Company (Tokyo), Zhuanji wenxue (Taipei). Optioned, with renewal, by Richard and Esther Shapiro on behalf of 20th Century Fox for TV mini series.

Mao: A Biography, Harper & Row (1980). Colophon paperback, 1981, 1984. Library of Great Lives edition, Easton Press, 1991. Revised and expanded edition, Touchstone 1993. Revised, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney (1995). Revised and expanded, Stanford University Press (2000). Also British, German, Italian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Chinese editions. (Excerpted in Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, etc.). Revised Chinese edition, People’s University Press (2006).

The Future of China: After Mao, Dell (1978); Delta paperback, 1978. Also British, French, Japanese, Singapore, Swedish, Indian, and Australian editions (all 1979). (Excerpted in Book Digest, Atlantida, etc.)

Flowers on an Iron Tree: Five Cities of China, Little Brown (1975); British edition 1976. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, Geo of Germany, National Times of Australia.)

Socialism as Fellowship: R. H. Tawney and His Times, Harvard University Press (1973), Harvard paperback (1975); British edition 1974, Harvard paperback 1975. (Excerpted in Dissent and Journal of the International Congress of University Adult Education, April, 1974.)

800,000,000: The Real China, Little Brown (1972), Delta paperback, (1972), Laurel edition (1973). Also Japanese, German, Chinese, Norwegian, British editions, 1972; Penguin 1975. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, London Observer, Bulletin (Australia), Foreign Service Journal, Problemes Sociaux et Politiques of France, Bungei Shunju of Japan, Sondags/BT of Denmark, etc.)

Chinese (Taiwan ) Edition
Bestselling Chinese Edition
Polish Edition


Extremely readable."
-Wall Street Journal

"A biography for reading .... As an academic popularizer of today’s China, Terrill is without equal."
-Washington Star

"There is not likely to be a book iike this-for a long time to come."
-Professor Edward Friedman

"Magnificent.... Must be read."
-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Terrill's book is consistently sprightly ... and he is full of wry or amusing observations and quotations. as well as brisk value judgments ."
-Jonathan Spence, Chicago Tribune

"A major and enduring contribution to the classic literature on
the Chinese Revolution."
- Theodore H. White

"A captivating biography that humanizes Mao in a remarkable way... The reader is treated to a colorful look at China.”
- Christian Science Monitor

"This new, well documented book is indispensable to understanding the relationship between Mao and events in China over the last half century. What's more, it's fascinating reading."
-Chicago Sun• Times

"Ross Terrill has brought Mao back to life in a biography that is earthy, compelling and eye-opening."
-U.S.-China Review

"Terrill’s fine eye for detail brings the physical presence of Mao directly into the reader's view."
- The New Republic

"If you want to understand what happened in China in the last 40 years, this is the one book you have to read."
"What Top Executives Are Reading," Business Week

"Ross Terrill, probably this country's preeminent writer on China, has accomplished a major feat in this biography ....He has given us a whole man to replace the two-dimensional representation of flat-faced peasant on poster and TV screen."
-Boston Globe

"Mao: A Biography is a magnificent work, as elegant as Chinese calligraphy, as cunning as Chinese aphorisms."


China in Our Time

"China in Our Time provides an absorbing history of the Middle Kingdom's traumatic last three decades... a rich autobiographical account of an intellectual's wrestling with the most populous country in the world... this is an elegantly written, engaging and knowledgeable book, which reads as if one were having a casual dinner conversation with the author at a corner table of a Beijing duck house."
- Nicholas Kristof in New York Times Book Review


This uncommonly fine book is personal history.. His story is not only a vivid account of the darker realities roiling beneath Chinese Communist rhetoric. It is also the story of [Terrill]'s own growing perception of the tyranny that Maoism represented...
- Richard Marius in Harvard Magazine

China in Our Time is an elegantly written book that is both personal and incisive.
- Seattle Times

China in Our Time provides an absorbing history of the Middle Kingdom's traumatic last three decades...For anyone wishing to learn more about the odyssey and plight over the last few decades of one-fifth of humanity, this is a terrific introduction.
- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Book Review

In this splendid work, Ross Terrill bas brilliantly captured the complexities of modern China, the leaders, the people, and the events better than anyone has ever done.
- Doris Kearns Goodwin

China in Our Time is an incisive and timely depiction of China's evolution over the last quarter century, illuminated by Ross Terrill's many journeys through China and his considerable literary talent..” - Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize

A riveting account...of four decades of Communist rule. Balanced, thoughtful, and impressive for Terrill's candid criticism of his own approach and for his mastery of the telling detail.
- Kirkus Reviews

This gripping account of a 28-year pilgrimage in search of China is beautifully written, deeply honest, and rich in insights. Ross Terrill's experiences mesh with China's convulsions so magically that the tangled story of Confucian Leninism is something we can all, thanks to his artist's eye and unmistakable authority, begin to grasp.
- James C. Thomson Jr., former White House aide

Ross Terrill has a rare ability to "seize the hour," to place himself in China at the moments of high drama. He arrived in Beijing a few hours before Tiananmen and his account of the bloody turmoil is one of the best and most dramatic. He got into China in 1964, well before the Cultural Revolution and beat Nixon and Kissinger to Beijing by more than a year. His memoir provides an attractive series of vignettes which illuminates China's recent past.
- Harrison Salisbury, author of The New Emperors

“I can think of no better source to prepare us to understand the next chapter in the long, gyrating saga of the Middle Kingdom.
- Chicago Tribune

"Ross Terrill first visited China in 1964 when it was still terra incognito to almost all Americans, and he he was there 25 years later, on June 4, 1989, when the Tiananmen massacre took place. In between he acted as an informal channel between the Chinese and two governments, and also produced some of the most important Western writing on China. In this perceptive, thoughtful, and sometimes moving book, he sums up his own experiences and those of China. Anyone who is interested in the Middle Kingdom will want to read China in Our Time.
- Richard Holbrooke, Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

"As an exiled student from Tiananmen Square, I think Ross Terrill has done a great job of weaving historical fact with personalized descriptions that provide unique insight into China's dramatic contemporary history and the recent Tiananmen tragedy. China in Our Time is a hard book to put down. For those who desire a more intimate view of China, it cannot be missed.
- Shen Tong, author of Almost a Revolution

"[Terrill]'s qualities as acute observer and graceful writer are undiminished. His new book provides a very good sense of where China is now, and even some sense of where it may be going...His concluding chapters, which deal with Tiananmen, are absolutely wonderful, vividly capturing the drama of the events, and somehow eliciting fresh outrage as they are read. They are perhaps the best short account we have. The voices of ordinary people...are heard here on nearly every page."
- Arthur Waldron in The National Interest

"A first-rate piece of work on a fascinating subject."
- Henry Kissinger

"Engaging...Throughout the years of turmoil in Mao's China, Terrill had a ringside seat...One ends the book grateful to have watched the Chinese political opera with a seasoned buff who from time to time slips away and reappears on stage."
- Christian Science Monitor

"Terrill...combines a journalist's eye for detail with solid academic training. He can thus tell an entrancing story and make a compelling case. China in Our Time is part historical narrative and part personal memoir. Terrill's experiences in China mesh beautifully with many of the most significant events in the history of the People's Republic. [His] eyewitness account of the June 4 massacre is one of the most powerful and horrifying records of the event I have ever read or expect to see. The most impressive feature of Terrill's book is the human face it gives to China.
With the same steady hand and personal touch that produced his highly acclaimed biographies of Mao and Mao's infamous wife, Jiang Qing, Terrill provides sketches of less exalted but no less interesting people...
- Houston Chronicle

"In this book Terrill masterfully tells the story of the forty-year history of the People's Republic, weaving into it his personal biography and evolution as a China specialist. In many ways China in Our Time is a supplementary, if not a corrective history of the many China books Terrill has written in the last two decades. His review of the last forty years from the perspective of 1992 is illuminating, especially to those who have read his earlier volumes.
- China News Update

“Terrill’s account of the [1989] Tiananmen Square massacre is the finest, I think, that we have in English, as well as the best dozen pages Terrill has ever written.
- Free China Review

“Terrill demonstrates his expertise in this
richly informative account”
- Publisher's Weekly,

"A riveting account...Balanced, thoughtful, and
impressive for Terrill's mastery of the telling
- Kirkus Reviews


"This is an altogether splendid book. It is lucid, erudite without
condescension and courageous in spirit ... The New Chinese empire
should be read by anyone who plans to deal seriously with China over
the next decade."
- Far Eastern Economic Review

"Terrill has extensive knowledge of Chinese history that he imparts
with graceful style and in fascinating detail ... "
- Foreign Affairs

"Terrill has produced another engaging book, and anyone interested
in China, especially the relationship between the US and China, would
do well to study it."
- The Christian Science Monitor

"Insightful predictions and critical yet astute observations." - Booklist
"To long-standing China-watcher and journalist Ross Terrill's credit,
he reminds us in his new book The New Chinese Empire: 'Repeatedly,
American and other officials, commentators, and scholars skip over
the fundamentals of the authoritarian Chinese state.'"
- Weekly Standard

"Outstanding ... Ross Terrill's The New Chinese Empire puts the U.S.China
relationship into the vast context of China's millennia-old
imperial Weltanschauung and the strategic thought it has
- Journal of International Security Affairs

"This book helps explain, better than anything written for decades,
why China's rulers today behave the way they do ... [it] is a fresh,
analytical retelling of Chinese history that adds immeasurably to
today's 'Whither China?' debate."
- National Review

"Although no one can predict what will take place, by looking at
China's past, Terrill has provided an excellent road map for
understanding its future." - Business Week

"Terrill is a well-regarded journalist and scholar who has been
reporting on Chinese affairs for nearly 40 years. In 'The New Chinese
Empire,' he provides an accessible and plausible critique of
contemporary China."
- Los Angeles Times

"I hope that Terrill's book will find a place on State Department
reading Iists ... He masterfully describes the full nature of Chinese
ambitions, their deep historical roots, and the coming developments
that will thwart them ... many keen insights and memorable phrases."
- The American Enterprise

"Mr. Terrill has written a fascinating book, filled with historical lore
and contemporary observations, about the Red Dragon."
- Washington Times

1972 Bestseller

800,000,000: The Real China, Little Brown (1972), Delta paperback, (1972), Laurel edition (1973). Also Japanese, German, Chinese, Norwegian, British editions, 1972; Penguin 1975. (Excerpted in Atlantic Monthly, London Observer, Bulletin (Australia), Foreign Service Journal, Problemes Sociaux et Politiques of France, Bungei Shunju of Japan, Sondags/​BT of Denmark, etc.)

"By far the finest account so far of life in the land of Mao"
- Time

“Deserves high praise. Terrill is an extremely perceptive writer”
- Washington Post

“One of the best pieces of contemporary American journalism...No Harvard professor ought to write so colorfully or entertainingly.”
- Christian Science Monitor

“The best piece of reporting from China since the late 1940s”
- John Fairbank

British edition