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In reminding us of this, Yang has done a great service during the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution in May When we see images of Red Guards humiliating and torturing their elders, it is worth remembering how many of them also tried to break free of their upbringing. He has also written a series of historically grounded but polemical books that aim to make sure we understand just how horrific the Mao years were.

Instead, his rule was explained as inevitable, or as better than what preceded it, or as something that at least got China on the right track. His new book is quieter in tone. The result is a much more successful blending of his brisk writing and his ability to unearth fascinating new information from the archives.

‚ÄéHistorical Dictionary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution on Apple Books

These were the kinds of reports that probably caused Mao to feel that the Cultural Revolution was necessary. In one telling section, he uses archives to show how thousands of people engaged in producing statues, incense, and other objects used in religious worship were thrown out of work when religion was effectively banned. We sometimes lose track of the fact that officials write reports for all sorts of reasons, with reporting the truth rarely among them.

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When Communist officials report that Nationalists have infiltrated the Party, one is not sure that this really is the case. Perhaps a score is being settled.

More Books by Guo Jian, Yongyi Song & Yuan Zhou

He writes, for example, that literacy and public health declined during the Mao period. This runs against many opposing accounts showing that they rose during the Cultural Revolution. But he goes no further and the story stops in All this said, every era interprets great historical events like the Cultural Revolution in its own way.

Of all the books on the Cultural Revolution that have appeared during this anniversary year, I was most intrigued by those that told detailed local stories to illustrate the larger history. Johnson of Grinnell College. In their introduction, Brown and Johnson make it clear that they want to broaden our understanding of the Cultural Revolution and the period that preceded it:.

We are. One of the many laudable features of the book is that it combines the work of Western and Chinese scholars. This volume shows what can be accomplished when both sides are represented. It is filled with memorable essays, including two on the surprising resiliency of religious life, as well as in-depth profiles of ordinary people, such as a teenager who described his frustrations at growing up in a repressive society and the sad story of a factory worker persecuted for his homosexuality.

Unfortunately, this book has not been translated into English, but the stories give fascinating insights into the tumult faced by ordinary people during the Mao period, especially the Cultural Revolution. Many of these books owe a debt to the heroic work of several U. Among their invaluable contributions to studies of the Cultural Revolution is The Chinese Cultural Revolution Database , which was compiled and edited by a team of seven scholars led by Song. It contains 40, documents, including internal papers, speeches, confessions, suicide notes, and appeals by ordinary people, with 40 million Chinese characters.

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