The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History
(…) Since its publication a decade ago, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals’s Mao’s Last Revolution has provided the most authoritative, comprehensive single-volume account of the Cultural Revolution in English. Its coolly analytical narrative exposed the unedifying mix of high-flown ideology and sordid factional wrangles. Now comes Frank Dikötter’s The Cultural Revolution, the last in his trilogy of works on the Mao era.
It importantly extends MacFarquhar and Schoenhals’s impressive work in two ways. First, Dikötter makes more intensive use of evidence drawn from China’s local archives, where historians (both Chinese and non-Chinese) have been able to uncover abundant research materials on the Mao era for the past decade and a half. Second, he excavates the unintended socioeconomic consequences of the Cultural Revolution, arguing that a purge launched to preserve the anti-capitalist “purity” of Mao’s revolution had the opposite effect.