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Mao's Last Revolution

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  207 Ratings  ·  22 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, ...more
Paperback, 693 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Belknap Press (first published 2006)
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Hadrian
Aug 07, 2014 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This volume is the fourth by MacFarquhar on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It is a restatement and conclusion of his previous work, but also uses new sources from opened archives, confession letters, internal correspondence, meetings of minutes, and sometimes scraps of paper salvaged from waste paper sellers.

The Cultural Revolution is still one of the most inscrutable events of the Maoist era. From 1966 until Mao's death in 1976, the country entered a period of self-flagellation. Ma
...more
Daniel Silveyra
Jan 24, 2011 Daniel Silveyra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea.

Everyone knows about Mao. He's on all the RMB notes, the Beatles sing about him, his face is now emblazoned on the ironic t-shirts of liberal arts students across the world. He is everywhere in China.

Like all dictators, you get the idea that he was officially a great man and unofficially a real son of a bitch. It is commonplace, when discussing dictators, to hear "pragmatic, realpolitik" opinions about the positive economic or political impact of these leaders. Not all bad, one is
...more
Horace Derwent
May 20, 2016 Horace Derwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CONFUCTMAS!!
John Crenshaw
Mar 01, 2011 John Crenshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On a subject like the Cultural Reovlution, one doesn't expect to find much decent material. The secrecy of China, their attempts to sweep Mao's evil beneath a rug, and the lack of English sources that covered the events make the subject somewhat bleak for those interested. Roderick MacFarquhar, in this book, has written easily the most in depth, and interesting book on the subject. To immerse yourself in the world of Post Revolution China, for even an avid amateur historian like myself, can be o ...more
Jennie
Aug 06, 2007 Jennie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mao's Last Revolution is the first academic-level full exploration of the Cultural Revolution. It's depth and level of insight is staggering. The authors have made full use of sources as recent as Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's Mao: The Unknown Story as well as recently opened archives in China. I think it would have been helpful to have a detailed timeline (I almost started making one to keep things straight). I greatly appreciated the glossary of names included in the back. I would not recommen ...more
Albert S
Mar 17, 2012 Albert S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I find this book too detailed with chronological events, and not helpful in understanding the cultural revolution.
For an understanding of why the cultural revolution took place, I recommend Han Suyin's "The morning deluge" published in 1972, and Robert Tay Lifton's "Revolutionary immortality: Mao Tse-tung and the chinese revolution".
Its interesting to know that MacFarquhar had not been to China, and Schoenhals was there only once for a year. In contrast, Han Suyin was born in China, lived in Chi
...more
Alberto
Jan 19, 2016 Alberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly researched and engagingly presented.
Connie
Mar 24, 2008 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the complexity of human experience
I am actually reviewing my markings in this book. It is a daunting project to start reading,but SO GOOD. The authors are highly respected historians who thought they could produce a book on the cultural revolution in 2 years or so. Ten years later this volume came out. In part the delay was that when it was known they were writing, more and more material was given to them. This book truly changes, deepens, informs one's understanding of the development of the cultural revolution, the influence o ...more
Tony Gualtieri
Jun 14, 2015 Tony Gualtieri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A history of the Cultural Revolution in which the authors do a fine job navigating the labyrinth of Chinese politics. They also show how the C.R. undermined Maoist ideology and paved the way for Deng's reforms. What's missing is the impact and practice of the Cultural Revolution on Chinese society but that is outside the scope of this text.
Lauren Albert
I could not see the forest for the trees. Recommended only for those who already have a good idea of what the forest looks like.

The level of detail (sometimes day-by-day) was excruciating but so was the story of institutionalized madness it told. The people surrounding Mao spoke of "working towards" him--why? Because while everyone wanted to do and say as he wished, they mostly couldn't figure out what that was especially as it regularly changed. Without exaggeration, sometimes black was black
...more
Linnwn
Jul 28, 2011 Linnwn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is surprisingly detailed. Even to a Native Chinese like me, this book had been an eye openner to the Chinese Politics and History.It did jot back some memories of food rationing during parents days and the massive scale of telecast on Deng's funeral.The book gives me a new understanding on the broughtup of the 60s generation,as well as the spill-over effect of the Cultural Revolution.

This book may be overly detailed to absorb for people who had never heard of names like Mao,Deng and Zh
...more
Jessica Zu
Sep 28, 2015 Jessica Zu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ge
can be used as a textbook in undergrad courses ... extensive details about chain of events around CR
Andrew P
May 02, 2015 Andrew P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to learn about one of the most complicated political structures in recent memory? Read this book. You will learn how power struggles can cause millions to be injured or die, based on misconceptions of power structures and how the public of any nation can be swept up into a furor over any issue or any time.

"monsters and freaks"
Britt
Sep 19, 2007 Britt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best general account of the Cultural Revolution out there. This book really brings to light the widespread, neighbor on neighbor, in-your-face violence and killing that characterized so much of Mao's ideologically driven movement of social chaos. Definitely worth a read...at least one.
Chris
Feb 04, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough, if somewhat dry, look at the Cultural Revolution. The big plus is that it draws primarily on Chinese sources and accounts, the dullness of historical completeness is punctuated by eye witness accounts of the horrible things that happened.
Riley
Nov 08, 2009 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is clear the writers have done their homework on the Culture Revolution, and this book made me appreciate what a terrible time that was in China. But like a lot of academic books, its writing leaves a lot to be desired.
Nathan
Extremely engrossing and meticulously researched. An invaluable resource for those of us fascinated with the Mao era in China.
Andrew
Apr 08, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Great. perhaps overlong in spots, but still .. .harrowing and a perpetual lesson.
Kim
Jul 14, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched, amazingly detailed account and analysis of the Cultural Revolution.
Huub
Aug 29, 2013 Huub rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Het blijft een onbegrijpelijk tijdvak voor me.
Yangmeijiu Guo
Oct 17, 2014 Yangmeijiu Guo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Focuses on Mao and high-level politics.
Jason
Jan 17, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scholars
Damned interesting, but way too detailed for my level of understanding. LOTS of sociopolitical dynamics in play. You need to be an avid scholar to contextualize this stuff. The chronology jumps around like a Quentin Tarantino plotline. I did learn one thing, however: Communism sucks.
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