The Cultural Revolution
A People's History, 1962-1976Book - 2016
After the economic disaster of the Great Leap Forward claimed tens of millions of lives from 1958-1962, an aging Mao Zedong launched an ambitious scheme to shore up his reputation and eliminate those he viewed as a threat to his legacy. The stated goal of the Cultural Revolution was to purge the country of bourgeois, capitalist elements he claimed were threatening genuine communist ideology. Young students formed the Red Guards, vowing to defend the Chairman to the death, but soon rival factions started fighting each other in the streets with semiautomatic weapons in the name of revolutionary purity. As the country descended into chaos, the military intervened, turning China into a garrison state marked by bloody purges that crushed as many as one in fifty people. This book draws for the first time on hundreds of previously classified party documents, from secret police reports to unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches. Frank Dikötter uses this wealth of material to undermine the picture of complete conformity that is often supposed to have characterized the last years of the Mao era. After the army itself fell victim to the Cultural Revolution, ordinary people used the political chaos to resurrect the market and hollow out the party's ideology. In short, they buried Maoism. By showing how economic reform from below was an unintended consequence of a decade of violent purges and entrenched fear, Dikötter casts China's most tumultuous era in a wholly new light.--Adapted from dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2016
Edition: First U.S. edition
Branch Call Number: 951.05 Dikotter
Characteristics: xxv, 396 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map, portraits ; 25 cm
From Library Staff
Draws on hundreds of previously classified party documents to shed new light on China's most tumultuous era, during which the country descended into violent purges and entrenched fear.
From the critics