The Times Literary Supplement (of which I’ve been a faithful subscriber for over a decade) published my letter about Mao Zedong’s personal cleanliness. After all these years, it’s always a nice surprise to see your name there. The TLS is behind a paywall (http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/reviews/letters_to_the_editor/article1671490.ece) so I copied and pasted the letter below:
Sir, – In a series of excellent reviews of books about Mao Zedong and early Communist China (January 15), Jeremy Brown notes that Mao’s doctor was surprised by his dislike for taking baths. This is correct, but one must add that Mao did like using the pool he had built inside his official residence at Zhongnanhai in central Beijing, and he often spent days in the pool, doing nothing but swimming and reading books in a robe; because, in addition to everything else, Mao was lazy. This is according to the same doctor Professor Brown cites, Li Zhisui, in his blood-curdling memoir The Private Life of Chairman Mao.