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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1949: Tragic insights into a "liberated" China, 29 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957 (Peoples Trilogy 2) (Hardcover)
Professor Dikötter's latest book forms part of a reevaluation in three parts of China's so-called Mao Zedong years. While the first - actually second - part on the Great Leap Forward added substance to the already widely acknowledged nefarious influence of the 'Great Helmsman' during the period of enforced collectivisation, the present volume deals with a historical taboo: the genesis of the People's Republic as an act of unspeakable brutality. Whilst no Maoist would argue that political power does not out of the barrel of a gun, the detailed descriptions which Frank Dikötter teased out of previously closed archives present a spine-tingling picture of the early People's Republic as a chaotic and depressing nightmare. Rather than engaging revolutionaries and the former elites in a political dialogue, the immediate and sustained policy of the Party, with Mao as its undisputed mastermind, is revealed as one of repression and extermination. The Tragedy of Liberation pursues rural "struggle sessions" and urban mass campaigns against ever more fictitious "enemies" of the revolution from the historically familiar (e.g. Guangxi campaign) to the most heartrending personal revelations. A poor farmer confessing that he once killed eight people as a one-year old, therefore fully deserving the wrath of the People? Mao's revolution made it possible. This book is a "must" for every reader interested in modern China, but also in the history of other revolutionary experiences, from Paris in the 1790s to Moscow during the 1920s. Frank Dikötter has produced a thoroughly researched yet fully accessible book, which can be easily understood by non-specialists. An important book, which will remain relevant over the coming decades.
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