A controversial figure in Chinese history, Mao Zedong founded the People's Republic of China, transforming the nation into a socialist state and nationalizing industry and business under the government while implementing socialist reforms. His ideology, a combination of Marxist-Leninist thought and his political and military policies, is referred to under the collective umbrella of Maoism. He's praised for modernizing China and criticized for being a dictator who violated human rights.
Mao Zedong's life is marked by political involvement even as a young man, drawing inspiration from Marxism and ancient Chinese philosophy. He organized protests and became heavily involved with the Communist Party of China, opening a branch in Changsha. He eventually rose to power as the military leader, helping drive out Japan before sparking a civil war that resulted in the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Mao Zedong promoted education, gender equality and affordable access to health care, launching the Great Leap program to form large agricultural communes, which failed. In 1966 Mao Zedong led the Cultural Revolution, targeting the young, and crafted a crisis that only he could resolve and called for the removal of the elite and middle class, upsetting traditional Chinese hierarchy in the process.