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Mao by Ross Terrill. New York: Harper Colophon Books. 481 pp. $6.95.

A captivating biography that humanizes Mao in a remarkable way, from his early years of rebellion against his father and his zealous quest for education, on through the turbulence of beginning years as a party functionary, to his years of oblivion in Yenan, the Long March, and his ultimate scramble for power. The reader is treated to a colorful look at China, not as a musty, remote land overlain with communist rhetoric, but exploding with revolution, overtaken by drama, and riven by power.