The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962–1976

Frank Dikötter. Bloomsbury, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-1-63286-421-5
In this richly documented final volume of a trilogy on the Maoist era, Dikötter, Samuel Johnson Prize winner for Mao’s Great Famine and professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong, powerfully captures Mao Zedong’s China during the Chairman’s last decade. Digging deeply into newly released material, Dikötter paints a chilling picture of an old man with “an enormous appetite for sex” who was busy “settling personal scores.” The account opens in the wake of the Great Chinese Famine, which marked the nadir of Mao’s popularity. As Dikötter moves into the latter half of the 1960s, he divides it into the blood-soaked “red years,” when the Red Guard (an exclusive youth cadre) had free rein to slaughter those they labeled bourgeois, and the “black years,” when the purge turned inward on the party. The “grey years” of the 1970s were marked by Nixon’s visit, the chairman’s death in 1976, and the condemnation of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing and her henchmen, the Gang of Four. Dikötter shows how Mao’s legacy of famine, disease, and a shattered educational system unintentionally allowed an underground society to thrive “as a realm of freedom.” Dikötter reveals that the Cultural Revolution failed to eradicate counterrevolutionary elements; instead, it erased Maoism and established a black market that continues to have global repercussions. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 05/03/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1364-1
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-63286-423-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6364-6
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