Mao Zedong was so important because he founded the People's Republic of China and was responsible for the disastrous policies of the "Cultural Revolution" and the "Great Leap Forward." Mao was a Chinese communist leader who reshaped Chinese society in what is seen by many as a negative way.
"The Great Leap Forward" was Mao's attempt to create what he considered to be a more "Chinese" form of communism. It included taking control of agricultural and industrial production. This led to the famine and deaths of millions of people. He then launched the "Cultural Revolution" in 1966 to help purge the country of its impure elements as well as rebuild a nationalist revolutionary spirit. One and a half million people died during this period and much of the Chinese cultural heritage was destroyed.
Mao was born on December 26, 1893, to a peasant family in central China. He trained as a teacher and traveled to Beijing where he got a job at the University Library. He read Marxist literature and in 1921 became the founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP. He set up a branch in Hunan and, in 1923, the Kuomintang nationalist party joined the CCP. Together, the two groups defeated the warlords who previously controlled most of the northern part of China. Though the two groups would go through periods of disunity later on.