64 The Long March 1934 IN 1934, MAO ZEDONG fled the Kuomintang's forces in southern China with 100,000 soldiers and headed north. For 12 months they marched across 18 mountain ranges and 24 rivers, turning a 6,000-mile trek into the longest political workshop on record. In remote villages they drew lessons in the dirt with twigs, exhorting peasants to organize against landlords. When he got to Shaanxi province, Mao had 8,000 soldiers left, but the march was a badge of honor for its survivors. They helped lead Mao to victory in 1949, when the People's Republic of China brought one fifth of mankind under communism. Mao touched millions across Asia, Africa and Latin America who had seen peasants extinguish centuries of imperial rule.