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Mao: The Civil War and The Great Leap Forward with Carl Zha
Episode 16923rd April 2022 • Macro N Cheese • Steve D Grumbine MS, MBA, PMP, PSM1, ITIL
00:00:00 01:00:20

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**Every episode of Macro N Cheese has a full transcript at While you’re there, check out the extras page, with links to further information related to the week’s topic.

The first part of this three-part series talked about China from Mao’s birth in 1893 through the Sino-Japanese war to the eve of the Chinese Civil War in 1945. This week, Carl discusses the civil war and the ultimate success of the Chinese Communist forces, despite being vastly outnumbered – 1.2 million against the KMT’s 4.5 million.

The US looked to China to be its junior partner in East Asia, much like Japan is today. They backed Chiang Kai-shek with military training, weapons, and other resources. A government led by the KMT would preclude a strong China-Soviet alliance.

Most leftists are familiar with the historic revolutionary form of warfare developed by Mao and the People’s Liberation Army. Lacking the numbers and equipment for a traditional, positional war, the Communists applied the tactics of what would come to be called guerrilla warfare, which has since been used successfully in wars of liberation around the world, including Vietnam, Angola, and Cuba.

The episode takes a detour to look at the history of Chinese paper money. Carl also describes how Mao won the support of local populations through land redistribution, then looks at some of the mistakes in the Great Leap Forward. Carl brings history to life with anecdotes from his own family.

Come back next week for the conclusion of this three-part series.

Carl Zha hosts Silk and Steel, a weekly podcast discussing history, culture and current events of China and Silk Road. Support him at

@CarlZha and @SteelSilkn on Twitter