File Size: 4738 KB
Print Length: 433 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (May 3, 2016)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
The Cultural Revolution ('66-'76) was a mass social turmoil of students and staff unleashed by Mao against his perceived enemies within the party and armed service. Throughout the Great Leap Forward ('58-'61) command economy and collective farming starved some thirty million people to death. Mao's political capital was nearly expended and comrades were emboldened to criticize his policies. When the Cultural Revolution was over the party was purged and comrades were chastened, notably Mao's Zero. 2, President Liu Shaoqi and future Chairman Deng Xiaoping. The student uprisings nearly generated civil battle, until Mao dialed them down and declared the military in charge by past due '68. Mao's cult of personality had now been unquestionably established, and guaranteed by the junta he was worshipped publicly throughout the land.
In the later stages of the revolution the people themselves were cleared by military-led revolutionary committees. Millions of ordinary residents were denounced, interrogated, imprisoned or executed for recognized and fabricated class crimes. Hundreds of thousands of professionals, teachers and students were banished from the large cities to be re-educated in the country. There they had to fend for themselves, to labor and starve in poverty among a peasant population unable and unwilling to absorb them. As the years ground on the revolution devolved into an endless cycle of purges whose ultimate purpose was to intimidate and control the people.
This third and last amount of a trilogy on post-WWII China is informed by historian Dikotter mainly through memoirs, news articles and PRC archives just lately made available. The memoirs run a range from popular published accounts such as Chang's Wild Swans and Cheng's Life and Death to less known and accessible accounts. Stories and data are reduce and pasted together like snippets in a scrapbook, arranged chronologically to form a narrative of occasions. This becomes a formidable wall of information, and at times there is an absence of general analysis by the writer apart from an from time to time interjected comment. Readers are left to draw their own conclusions, even though the occasions often speak unequivocally for themselves.
The particular book does not take an overtly polemical stance, even though some may assert that it does. Is Dikotter a red baiter or Mao hater? I think not, based on this book and interviews on Nationwide Public Radio and in the South China Article. It absolutely was noted in one interview that the issue he faced was " the level of apprehension he should present". This book does have an almost sensational tenor at times. Perhaps it is a function of the extremity of the times, but perhaps it is also due to the focus of the author. Dikotter reflects that to be silent dangers complicity, a line of thought once expressed by Elie Wiesel. What exactly is explained in this book is so troubling that except if one denies its validity, one must criticize the policies that made it possible. The hardest training may not be seen in what an unchecked leader can do to his people, but rather in what an unchecked people may do to each other. It is a disturbing portrait of the events that unfolded., This was an interesting book. I only experienced a vague knowledge of the cultural revolution before looking over this. The author did a realistic alternative of incorporating stories of individual activities while presenting the overall picture of what was taking place. He used many resources which have recently become available. This specific is the third publication in a trilogy about China during Mao's life time. I read it gradually to absorb everything and distinction what was in the news and happening in my life at the time. The United States was focused on Vietnam Battle and that we got little information out of China as this revolution took place., I have read Dikotter's earlier Mao's great Starvation. I just finished this. An extremely well-written and enjoyable (albeit tremendously sad) publication.
First, I am a fan for some reason of the past of mid-20th millennium political pathologies. So I have read a lot of Stalin books and a lot of Hitler books. If you are not particularly thinking about that topic--or more particularly thinking about China--then you may find this dry. But if you have any interest at all in the topic, you will discover it enjoyable.
The story is informed in chapters that overlap to phases of the Cultural Revolution. This makes the book a little hard to follow, since (this was one thing I learned) the Cultural Trend was far from linear. Mao lent support first to one faction then to a different. Power ebbed and flowed between factions, yesterday's political oppressors becoming this political prisoners (and then back again).
Random amazing fact: Demand, instilled by a wish to avoid being politically suspect, for replicates of Mao's Little Reddish Book was so high that industrial output had to be redirected; cleaning soap production fell by 15% nationally making possible production of the book.
For the general reader (like me) the book is well written and clear enough to be enjoyable. Through the footnotes, it appears the Dikotter has been in the archives a lot. Nealy all the information refer to original options.
Good book., A good brief history of the Cultural Revolution. It can be a little confusing sometimes as there are many changes in ideology to cover, not to talk about people. So what happened to the average Chinese is only quickly mentioned, but the publication would be very long if this went into that kind of horror., The worthy final instalment ofn the people's trilogy. I found it quite stimulating that the book put a lot of focus on the impact of the Cultural Revolution on the overall population and how they attempted to get on with their lives while all this was going on. As in the other two books, the all-pervasive violence and how it holes families, friends and the social fabric apart is merely beyond words.
I also liked the way the book makes it absolutely clear as it advances that the whole exercise was a way for Mao to purge his enemies from the party and how he handled it completely and almost over a whim. It also additional at least to my understanding of why there has been no all out condemnation of the Ethnic Revolution: the fact that huge numbers of men and women were both victims and perpetrators as the fortunes of the several groupings shifted throughout the period.
All in all, it is an easy, vivid read with lots of detail and facts that completes the trilogy in a very satisfying way. A great way to show how primary source material may be put to excellent use. It adds to the overall impression of the 3 books that claims that the revolution and the CCP have been good for China and that the CCP, despite it all, deserves some credit for doing more good than bad, is quite wrongheaded.
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