Tse-tung Mao, along with Yat-sen Sun and Kai-Shek Chiang, was one of the most important figures to modern Chinese history. Born to a peasant family--his father was a farmer--in Shaoshan, China, on December 26, 1893, Mao was raised in the grinding poverty of rural Hunan province, where he developed a hatred of the Imperial Chinese government while still a boy. In 1911 Mao left school to join the revolution against Manchu rule. In the years that followed, Mao grew increasingly more radical, and in 1921 became one of the founding members of the Chinese Communist Party. When a power struggle between the Communists and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists erupted into open warfare in 1927, Mao proclaimed "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" and eagerly joined the fight. Badly outnumbered by Chaing's army, the Communists were slowly driven out of eastern China and, on the brink of defeat, Mao led a retreat to the mountains of the northwest in 1934, a 6,000-mile trek that became known

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