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The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957by Frank Dikotter
Synopses & Reviews
“The Chinese Communist party refers to its victory in 1949 as a ‘liberation. In China the story of liberation and the revolution that followed is not one of peace, liberty, and justice. It is first and foremost a story of calculated terror and systematic violence.” So begins Frank Dikötters stunning and revelatory chronicle of Mao Zedongs ascension and campaign to transform the Chinese into what the party called New People. Due to the secrecy surrounding the countrys records, little has been known before now about the eight years that followed, preceding the massive famine and Great Leap Forward.
Drawing on hundreds of previously classified documents, secret police reports, unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches, eyewitness accounts of those who survived, and more, and told with great narrative sweep, The Tragedy of Liberation bears witness to a shocking, largely untold history, giving voice at last to the millions who were lost and casting new light on the foundations of one of the most powerful regimes of the twenty-first century.
"DikÃ¶tter's Mao's Great Famine (2010) won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2011, and his prequel is just as well composed and heartbreaking to read. He draws on Chinese archives to detail the depth of tragedy, oppression, dehumanization, and death visited on the people of China under Mao's leadership before the horrifically misnamed 'Great Leap Forward.' DikÃ¶tter sets the stage in his preface, where he calls the initial period of the revolution 'one of the worst tyrannies... of the twentieth century,' which sent 'to an early grave at least 5 million civilians.' The book goes on to offer both statistical and anecdotal evidence of the hardships and terror that the Chinese endured; waves of collectivization in the countryside reduced villagers to near-starvation levels of diet, while in urban areas 'capitalists' and 'intellectuals' were forced to divest themselves of all property, and party members were subject to Mao's whims. Hunger, humiliation, torture, and suicide fill these pages. This isn't an easy book to read, especially as readers will already understand that the decade described here is only the beginning of Mao's reign of terror, but it is a vital study of a crucial period of history. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A groundbreaking chronicle of the violent early years of the Peoples Republic of China, by the author of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize-winning Maos Great Famine.
About the Author
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 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has published nine books about the history of China, including Maos Great Famine, which won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2011. He lives in Hong Kong.
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