In 1935, the fledgling Communist Party and its 90,000 strong Red Army were bombed out of their base in the South by the Nationalist government, led by Chiang Kaishek. And so began the Long March – 90,000 people, led by Mao Zedong over 6,000 miles. Only 3,000 survived, but together they fought back, defeated the Nationalists and launched a revolution. The myth was born, and remains the enduring emblem of China.
It is an inspiring and epic story of unbelievable endurance, courage and optimism against impossible odds. But the reality was quite different from the myth. The Long March was when Mao put his theories about China to the test. He perfected the art of leadership. Mao assumed the mantle of invincibility and indeed was a gifted political and military strategist who understood the needs of the Chinese peasants like noone else. But that invincibility led China to its most serious disasters – the Great Leap and ensuing famine which killed 40 million people, and the unparalleled Cultural Revolution. Incredibly, Mao eventually sent every surviving Long Marcher to jail or execution. In this incredible account, Sun Shuyun follows the route of the Long March, through hostile and often dangerous terrain, reconstructing the story and investigating the myths that surround it, searching for the truth of why people supported the Communists, and why many did not.
Sun Shuyun has gained unique access – to the handful of survivors, to new documentation, to archives and history that was beyond enquiry under Communism – and 'The Long March' confronts the reality behind the myth, the dreams and disillusions, the pain and the hope, and the lessons that can still be learned