Mao Zedong, (1893-1976) was the leader of Chinese Communism and a ruthless atheist dictator after he came to power in 1949. While not the founder, he was an early member of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. In 1935, Mao was elected to the Executive Committee of the Comintern in Moscow and remained on this committee until it was publicly disbanded in 1943. Mao is regarded as perhaps the biggest mass murderer in history. 
Soviet national liberation movement
Edgar Snow introduced Mao and Zhou Enlai to American readers in 1937 in his book, Red Star Over China, shortly after the Chinese Red Army’s rout by Chiang Kai-shek in 1934 and their year long retreat to Yenan known as the Long March. Snow wrote, "The political ideology, tactical line and theoretical leadership of the Chinese Communists have been under the close guidance, if not positive detailed direction, of the Communist International, which during the last decade has become virtually a bureau of the Russian Communist Party." And he further declared that the CCP had to subordinate itself to the "strategic requirements of Soviet Russia, under the leadership of Stalin."
Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists, taking control of the Chinese mainland and establishing the People's Republic of China.
Three Years of Disasters
As the leader of China, Mao initiated the Great Leap Forward, an economic plan intended to rapidly industrialize China's then largely rural economy. In the end it proved a ruinous failure, preventing the peasants from producing needed food and causing massive famines; up to 38 million starved to death or were killed for opposing the economic plan.
In 1966, Mao instigated the Cultural Revolution, in which those disloyal to the Chairman were killed or humiliated in order to solidify Mao's control. Richard Nixon was the first United States president to meet with Mao, and thus the first to acknowledge the existence of the People's Republic of China, as opposed to Taiwan's Republic of China.
Overall, historians believe that around 43 million people died under Mao's rule, due mostly to starvation from disastrous socialist economic policies such as the "Great Leap Forward" but now known in China as The Three Years of Disaters. This is 7 times the common figure given for the Holocaust but it is much less known.
Little Red Book
Mao is the author of Quotations from Chairman Mao, published in 1966, informally known as "the little red book." During his lifetime, almost everyone in the People's Republic of China was expected to have a copy. One of his most well known statements was that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun".
In their book Mao: The Unknown Story, authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday state that in his first five years of power, 700,000 were claimed by Mao to be dead, but another 700,000 died in local excesses and 700,000 committed suicide out of fear of Mao. During the Great Leap Forward, Mao deliberately killed peasants by shipping food to the USSR and Eastern Europe in exchange for aid in building arms plants. As well, Mao's plans for peasants to make steel and build canals meant that in 1959-60 nobody grew any food. Thus, the worst famine in history occurred. Huge numbers were killed by puppets of Mao in the Cultural Revolution, which actually was launched to get rid of Mao's rivals in the Chinese Communist Party.
- Chang, Jung and Jon Halliday. Mao: The Unknown Story, (2005), 814 pages, ISBN 0-679-42271-4
- Clark, Paul. The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History (2008), a favorable look at artistic production excerpt and text search
- Dietrich, Craig. People's China: A Brief History, 3d ed. (1997), 398pp excerpt and text search
- Esherick, Joseph W.; Pickowicz, Paul G.; and Walder, Andrew G., eds. The Chinese Cultural Revolution as History. (2006). 382 pp. excerpt and text search
- Fairbank, John King and Goldman, Merle. China: A New History. (2nd ed. 2006). 640 pp. excerpt and text search
- Hsü, Immanuel Chung-yueh. The Rise of Modern China, 6th ed. (1999), highly detailed coverage of 1644-1999, in 1136pp. excerpt and text search
- Jian, Guo; Song, Yongyi; and Zhou, Yuan. Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. (2006). 433 pp.
- MacFarquhar, Roderick and Fairbank, John K., eds. The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 15: The People's Republic, Part 2: Revolutions within the Chinese Revolution, 1966-1982. (1992). 1108 pp.
- MacFarquhar, Roderick and Michael Schoenhals. Mao's Last Revolution. (2006).
- MacFarquhar, Roderick. The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. Vol. 3: The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961-1966. (1998). 733 pp.
- Meisner, Maurice. Mao's China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, 3rd ed. (1999), dense book with theoretical and political science approach. excerpt and text search
- Schoppa, R. Keith. The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History. Columbia U. Press, 2000. 356 pp. online edition from Questia
- Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China (1991), 876pp; well written survey from 1644 to 1980s excerpt and text search; complete edition online at Questia
- Spence, Jonatham. Mao Zedong (1999) excerpt and text search
- Shuyun, Sun. The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth (2007)
- Taylor, Jay. The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern China (2009), 722 pp. highly favorable scholarly biography of Mao's great enemy
- Wang, Ke-wen, ed. Modern China: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Nationalism. (1998). 442 pp.
- Xia, Yafeng. "The Study of Cold War International History in China: A Review of the Last Twenty Years," Journal of Cold War Studies10#1 Winter 2008, pp. 81-115 in Project Muse
- Yan, Jiaqi and Gao, Gao. Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution. (1996). 736 pp.
- Studies of Modern Chinese History: Reviews and Historiographical Essays
- Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow, New York, 1937.