Synopses & Reviews
The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People's Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.
In a masterly book, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals explain why Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, and show his Machiavellian role in masterminding it (which Chinese publications conceal). In often horrifying detail, they document the Hobbesian state that ensued. The movement veered out of control and terror paralyzed the country. Power struggles raged among Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Qing Mao's wife and leader of the Gang of Four while Mao often played one against the other.
After Mao's death, in reaction to the killing and the chaos, Deng Xiaoping led China into a reform era in which capitalism flourishes and the party has lost its former authority. In its invaluable critical analysis of Chairman Mao and its brilliant portrait of a culture in turmoil, Mao's Last Revolution offers the most authoritative and compelling account to date of this seminal event in the history of China.
"[MacFarquhar and Schoenhals's] account is authoritative, and presented with powerful narrative sweep.... They deftly guide the reader....And through all that, the authors note the impact of events on ordinary citizens." Boston Globe
"While the authors present a painstakingly detailed account of interactions among the top leaders and their proxies in Beijing...they leave many of the most significant questions for the sociologists, political scientists and the Chinese people themselves." Judith Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] fascinating study of Mao's colossal, yet cunning, misadventure. But it may leave some readers fatigued, with too many faceless names and a narrative that is at times chronologically disjointed. The introduction and conclusion, however, offer context and much food for thought." The Christian Science Monitor
"Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals have performed a great service in providing a masterful history of this important and puzzling event....MacFarquhar and Schoenhals have respected the limits of their data, and have more scrupulously left Mao an enigma." Andrew J. Nathan, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
In a masterly book, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals explain why Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, and show his Machiavellian role in masterminding it. In often horrifying detail, they document the Hobbesian state that ensued. 57 halftone photos.
About the Author
Roderick MacFarquhar is Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science, and Professor of Government, Harvard University.
Michael Schoenhals is Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese Society at Lund University, Sweden.
Table of Contents
1. The First Salvos
2. The Siege of Beijing
3. Confusion on Campuses
4. The Fifty Days
5. Mao's New Successor
6. The Red Guards
7. Red Terror
8. Confusion Nationwide
9. Shanghai's "January Storm"
10. Seizing Power
11. The Last Stand of the Old Guard
12. The Wuhan Incident
13. The May 16 Conspiracy
14. The End of the Red Guards
15. Cleansing the Class Ranks
16. Dispatching Liu Shaoqi
17. The Congress of Victors
18. War Scares
19. The Defection and Death of Lin Biao
20. Mao Becalmed
21. Zhou under Pressure
22. Deng Xiaoping Takes Over
23. The Gang of Four Emerges
24. The Tiananmen Incident of 1976
25. The Last Days of Chairman Mao
Glossary of Names and Identities
A Note on Sources