In 1966 Mao launched an ambitious scheme to consolidate his legacy, unleashing Red Guards against all remnants of old culture. Soon rival factions were fighting each other in the streets in the name of revolutionary purity. The military intervened, turning the country into a garrison state. But after the army itself fell victim to the Cultural Revolution, ordinary villagers saw an opportunity to undermine the planned economy and resurrect the market – and in so doing, quietly bury Maoism.
Frank Dikötter discusses this in The Cultural Revolution, the final volume of his prize-winning and highly acclaimed The People’s Trilogy. This trilogy documents the impact of Communism on the lives of ordinary people in China, looking at new archival material. The first in the trilogy, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. The next in the series was entitled The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution, 1945-1957. In the final one, Dikötter recasts China’s most tumultuous era in a wholly new light, timed to coincide with the 50 year anniversary of its commencement in May 1966.
Join the two for a fascinating talk to mark the official launch of the book and 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution’s start.
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