Last Thursday, Alan Taylor, Chair of the Jury for the Cundill History Prize, announced that Julia Lovell had won this year’s prize for her book Maoism: A Global History. In his announcement, Taylor said, “Maoism is a revelation. Julia Lovell thoroughly explores the origins of Maoism in China, and then goes on to show us the many ways in which Maoist thought has influenced societies as different as Peru and Indonesia, Europe and the United States. Her book will dazzle readers with lucid and vivid insights into the power of a protean, and often deadly, ideology – and its enduring impact on our world today. Julia Lovell has written an exceptional work of history.”
Administered by McGill University in Montreal and awarded by a distinguished jury, the Cundill History Prize honors the abiding passion for history of its founder, F. Peter Cundill, by encouraging informed public debate through the wider dissemination of history writing to new audiences around the world.
Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell
Since the heyday of Mao Zedong, there has never been a more crucial time to understand Maosim. Although to Western eyes it seems that China has long abandoned the utopian turmoil of Maoism in favor of authoritarian capitalism, Mao and his ideas remain central to the People’ Republic and the legitimacy of its communist government. As disagreements and conflicts between China and the West are likely to mount, the need to understand the political legacy of Mao will only become more urgent. Yet during Mao’s lifetime and beyond, the power and appeal of Maoism has always extended beyond China.
Across the globe, Maoism was a crucial motor of the Cold War: it shaped the course of the Vietnam War (and the international youth rebellion it triggered) and brought to power the murderous Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; it aided, and sometimes handed victory to, anti-colonial resistance movements in Africa; it inspired terrorism in Germany and Italy, and wars and insurgencies in Peru, India and Nepal, some of which are still with us today – more than forty years after the death of Mao.
In this new history, acclaimed historian Julia Lovell reevaluates Maoism, analyzing both China’s engagement with the movement and its legacy on a global canvas. It’s a story that takes us from the tea plantations of north India to the sierras of the Andes, from Paris’s 5th Arrondissement to the fields of Tanzania, from the rice paddies of Cambodia to the terraces of Brixton. Starting from the movement’s birth in northwest China in the 1930s and unfolding right up to its present-day violent rebirth, this is the definitive history of global Maoism.