The historical experience of the Chinese Communist Party before 1949 has often assumed the dimension of a myth. As in any myth, what actually happens is not as important as the significant lesson to be learned. A case in point is the battle of “the last and the most strategic pass” of La-tzu-k'ou in the Long March. The Chinese annals contain at least five differing versions of this encounter on September 17–18, 1935. This may be attributed, inter alia, to the desire of the authors to glorify their own part in the Long March as much as that the battle of La-tzu-k'ou is of greater political than military significance. By publishing these accounts, the Chinese authorities hope to prove the correctness of Mao Tse-tung's policy of the northward march in mid-1935. Indeed Lin Piao's role was largely a magniloquent account of relevant events at La-tzu-k'ou, following his appointment as Minister of National Defense to succeed the disgraced P'eng Te-huao in 1959—notwithstanding the fact that Mao Tse-tung had in 1935 composed a well-known poem praising only P'eng's valor during the battle. True, history is historiography and historiography is politics in the People's Republic of China.

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