9781632864215

The Cultural Revolution A People's History, 1962–1976

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781632864215

  • ISBN10:

    1632864215

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 5/3/2016
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press

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Summary

After the economic disaster of the Great Leap Forward that 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, capitalistic 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.

The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962–1976 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, The Cultural Revolution casts China's most tumultuous era in a wholly new light.

Author Biography

Frank Dikötter is chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong. Before moving to Asia in 2006, he was professor of the modern history of China at the University of London. He has published ten books about the history of China, including Mao's Great Famine, which won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2011, and The Tragedy of Liberation, which was short-listed for the George Orwell Prize. He lives in Hong Kong.

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