Stuart R. Schram, Nuclear Physicist and Mao Scholar, Dies at 88

Stuart R. Schram was a Minnesotan who made his way to Paris, an Army nuclear physicist who became an expert in French political history, and a mind wide awake in a world remade by war and its cold aftermath.

By the late 1950s, having already worked on the Manhattan Project, published scholarly works in French and German, and taught himself Russian and Japanese, he turned his considerable intellect to a divisive and mysterious subject far across the globe and accessible to the West almost solely through written works and transcripts: Mao Zedong.

It was an ambitious and rewarding move. Over the next 50 years, Mr. Schram, who died on July 8 in France at 88, completed a seminal biography of Mao just before the disasters of the Cultural Revolution, and spent much of the rest of his life translating into English exhaustive volumes of Mao’s words, in the process shedding critical light on a rapidly changing China.

To other China scholars, Mr. Schram provided cleareyed analysis of Mao at a time when many people were eager to reduce him to either an evil dictator or a visionary hero. Mr. Schram’s works, they say, are touchstones in the study of how Mao adapted Marxism for consumption by one of the world’s oldest cultures.

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