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Over the course of 66 days in 1967, more than 4,000 "class enemies"--including young children and the elderly--were murdered in Daoxian, a county in China's Hunan province. The killings spread to surrounding counties, resulting in a combined death toll of more than 9,000. Commonly known as the Daoxian massacre, the killings were one of many acts of so-called mass dictatorship and armed factional conflict that rocked China during the Cultural Revolution. However, in spite of the scope and brutality of the killings, there are few detailed accounts of mass killings in China's countryside during the Cultural Revolution's most tumultuous years.
Years after the massacre, journalist Tan Hecheng was sent to Daoxian to report on an official investigation into the killings. Tan was prevented from publishing his findings in China, but in 2010, he published the Chinese edition of The Killing Wind in Hong Kong. Tan's first-hand investigation of the atrocities, accumulated over the course of more than 20 years, blends his research with the recollections of survivors to provide a vivid account exploring how and why the massacre took place and describing its aftermath. Dispelling the heroic aura of class struggle, Tan reveals that most of the Daoxian massacre's victims were hard-working, peaceful members of the rural middle class blacklisted as landlords or rich peasants. Tan also describes how political pressure and brainwashing turned ordinary people into heartless killing machines.
More than a catalog of horrors, The Killing Wind is also a poignant meditation on memory, moral culpability, and the failure of the Chinese government to come to terms with the crimes of the Maoist era. By painting a detailed portrait of this massacre, Tan makes a broader argument about the long-term consequences of the Cultural Revolution, one of the most violent political movements of the twentieth century. A compelling testament to the victims and survivors of the Daoxian massacre, The Killing Wind is a monument to historical truth: one that fills an immense gap in our understanding of the Mao era, the Cultural Revolution, and the status of truth in contemporary China.
Tan Hecheng is a retired author and editor for the Chinese government.
Table of Contents
Map Blood Awakening Deconstructing the Mythos of Mao Zedong's Peasant Revolution Translator's Note Chronology of the Cultural Revolution Killings in Daoxian
Part One: The Origin of the Massacre Chapter 1: The River of Death Chapter 2: My Destiny with Daoxian Chapter 3: Daoxian on the Eve of the Massacre Chapter 4: The Random Killings Begin Part Two: Assembling the Machinery of Slaughter Chapter 5: The Killing Wind Spreads through Administrative Lines Chapter 6: Qingtang District and the Rise of the Peasant Supreme Courts Chapter 7: The Red Alliance Role in the Killing Wind Part Three: Chetou and Shangguan Districts - Murder as Spectacle Chapter 8: Chetou District's Model Killings Chapter 9: Shangguan District - In the Eye of the Storm Chapter 10: Other Communes in Shangguan District
Part Four: Gongba District, the County's Top Killer Chapter 11: A Dubious Honor Chapter 12: The Killings at Daoxian's Deadliest Commune Chapter 13: Some Who Got Away Chapter 14: Death before Marriage Chapter 15: High-level Participation in Qingxi District Chapter 16: When the Pebble Rises from the Water
Part Six: Xianglinpu District's Militia Push Chapter 17: The Shangdu Militia Headquarters Chapter 18: Even Heaven Wept Chapter 19: Two Classic Cases Chapter 20: The Banality of Evil
Part Seven: Deadly Politics Chapter 21: A Little Education Is a Dangerous Thing Chapter 22: The Price of Truth Chapter 23: The Scapegoated Landlord Class
Part Eight: The Killers Chapter 24: Beyond the Pale Chapter 25: Brainwashed
Part Nine: The Outliers Chapter 26: The Anomalous Xianzijiao District Chapter 27: The Zhenggangtou Phenomenon Chapter 28: The Miracle of Life Chapter 29: The Story of an Execution Ground Survivor Part Ten: The Crackdown Chapter 30: The 6950 Unit Arrives in Daoxian Chapter 31: No Regrets Chapter 32: The Petitioners Chapter 33: Change of Plans Chapter 34: Killings in the Counties and Cities Surrounding Daoxian
Part Eleven: The End of the Killing Wind Chapter 35: Huang Yida and the Fall of the Red Alliance Chapter 36: Reversals
Afterword: Living for Truth
Appendix I: Basic Statistics on the Victims of the Daoxian Cultural Revolution Killings Appendix II: Official Culpability in Daoxian's Killing Wind