Stuart R. Schram, 88, a Minnesotan who became an Army nuclear physicist, worked on the Manhattan Project and was a Mao scholar, died July 8 in France from a stroke.
Born in Excelsior on Feb. 27, 1924, he received an undergraduate degree in physics in less than three years from the University of Minnesota and was drafted into the Army, where he worked in Chicago on developing an atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.
By the late 1950s, having published scholarly works in French and German, and taught himself Russian and Japanese, he turned his considerable intellect to a mysterious subject accessible to the West almost solely through written works and transcripts: Mao Zedong.
Over the next 50 years, Schram completed a biography of Mao just before the disasters of the Cultural Revolution, and he 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, Schram provided clear analysis of Mao at a time when many people were eager to reduce him to either an evil dictator or a visionary hero. 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.
"He struck a middle ground between Cold War anti-Communism and armchair revolutionary paeans and praise," China historian Timothy Cheek said.
NEW YORK TIMES