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Son of the Revolution

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  629 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
An autobiography of a young Chinese man whose childhood and adolescence were spent in Mao's China during the Cultural Revolution.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 12th 1984 by Vintage (first published January 12th 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,093)
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Apr 26, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History teachers, History students, Asia watchers
Recommended to Michael by: Brandon Hunziker
This was a book I was assigned to teach in connection with the class “The World After 1945,” when I was a Teaching Assistant in History. As I recall, it came at a busy time in the semester, and I had to get most of the main teaching points from a meeting with the professor and other TAs just a day or so before class. I should have read the whole thing to prepare (as my students were required to), but judging by the condition of this copy and my fading memory of the contents, I suspect I did not ...more
Esmael Sherka
Jan 27, 2014 Esmael Sherka rated it liked it
Son of the Revolution is a spare book, the sort of small biography you might pick up and read in a couple of days some weekend. It packs an enormous punch, though. Liang Heng, its author, experienced essentially every side of the cultural revolution in China, and his graceful, somewhat understated prose only acts as a sort of smooth surface to the roiling undercurrent of those huge events.

Liang Heng literally experienced almost everything about the cultural revolution first hand. In the course o
Paul Aslanian
Feb 24, 2010 Paul Aslanian rated it really liked it
I stumbled on to this book while reading one of those "five best" books which are often listed in the WSJ when they interview an author. In this case it as a list of the five best books on social/cultural revolutions. The list featured this book on the Red Guards era roughly 1966 to Mau's dealth in 1976.

The book is written by a young man who was about seven when the movement began. He is the middle kid with one sister younger and one older. It is written in the first person by the kid. The reade
Zi Xin Lee
Sep 15, 2015 Zi Xin Lee rated it it was amazing
Really moving book about the trials and tribulations of the ordinary citizen caught in political movements of Maoist China. It painted a vivid and emotion-evoking picture of the hypocrisy of Communist ideology, of the heart-wrenching ignorance of the common people to this hypocrisy and their enthusiasm at partaking in it, of the knowledge-starved and food-starved people downtrodden by fate and the unintentionally harmful actions of other citizens in the same shoes, and of a society in reality so ...more
Dec 19, 2013 Alijah rated it it was amazing
Dear the people, who read reviews on good read,
At first I was like why read this book, and when I first read this I had disliked this book, but as I had got farther I had liked it and now I know way more about the movement. But I advise, if you are like me who likes action books like the Hunger Games and Divergent then you may not like this book.

The book is written by a young man who was about seven when the movement began. He is the middle kid with one sister younger and one older. It is writ
Jordan Lui
Jan 08, 2014 Jordan Lui rated it really liked it
When i finished this book i had mixed feelings, I enjoyed from beginning to end but the execution of such enjoyment was varied. At first when i read about half of it, i hated the main character because he never listen, he was spoiled and was over the top and he believed every thing he did was the right choice, but then i realized he was a kid which excuses it because he was a child, he did not knew that what he did was truly wrong, but it was his parents who taught him that the things he did fro ...more
This was an amazing memoir. I'm kind of surprised that I was assigned this for a modern Chinese history class simply because it was so good.

I think that a lot of people could actually read this book and enjoy it. But I admit that the reader will need a very basic understanding of Chinese history. Nothing in this book was all too difficult to understand, and Judith Shapiro probably had a lot to do with that (the introduction says that she helped him write it and make it appeal to foreigners). Thi
Josh Maddox
Nov 02, 2015 Josh Maddox rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Liang Heng’s Son of the Revolution functions on three levels: as an autobiography, as a personal history of the Cultural Revolution, and as a piece of literature. On all three levels, it succeeds. The book follows the life of the author through his childhood, teenage, and young adult years as the Cultural Revolution swirls around him, disrupting his life and destroying much of his family.

To see more of this review, check out my blog at

Nov 10, 2015 T.A. rated it liked it
I had to read this for a college class I'm taking, so I was kind of dreading it and may not be have enjoyed it as much as I should have just because of that. It was a really good book--very well-written and informative. It was interesting to read about Liang's experiences and his perceptions of what was going on around him. I just didn't personally enjoy it very much.
Nov 02, 2015 Jenna rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Read for class, fall 2015 (though I think I've read it before in a previous course). Engaging, easy to read, and honest. I'd like to know the rest of Liang Heng's story.
Graham Houle
Apr 23, 2009 Graham Houle rated it really liked it
This book is a striking and insightful look at Chinese Culture during one of their most energetic and sadly misguided times. This book does not focus on the highest elites, nor the poor peasants. But is told from the perspective of the struggling middle class who like a yo-yo or pendulum were torn back and forth between movements and rebellions. The middle classes and people of China turned against themselves and imploded into civil war and fighting so many times that it stalled and hindered the ...more
Jacque Bona
Dec 02, 2010 Jacque Bona rated it it was amazing
What an excellent book. My college-age son recommended it, and I'm so glad he did. The author has written his life story of the injustices and inequities of growing up in China with the pace and interest of a novel. He is just a few years older than myself, and I cannot believe his horrible life experiences compared to mine.

People today who think the utopia of a socialist or communist society is where America should veer, should read this book. The freedoms we have are so inherent in the fabric
Sep 04, 2011 Karl rated it liked it
Required reading. Not the best writing, but the plot is compelling enough that it's a good read. Covers most of the major political and economic changes and their real world consequences from the 50s to the 70s including the 100 Flowers campaign, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution from a first person perspective.

Touches on the negative consequences of planned economies, irrational policy making, personality cults and propaganda. Or at least that's how I saw it. I wouldn't put it
John Cassian
Jun 22, 2013 John Cassian rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible nonfiction book that read, at times, like "1984." The Chinese Communist Party encouraged neighbors to turn in their neighbors for being anti-CCP. They encouraged mothers to turn in their children for being anti-CCP. This rings even more true in today's world of cyberwarfare and information leaks like the NSA's Snowden. In fact, the U.S. government is tightening its own controls on whistleblowers by -- you guessed it -- asking friends to turn in their government employee fr ...more
Oct 02, 2016 Jackson rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A compelling look at an intellectual's son's experience during China's Cultural Revolution.
Gambino Carlo
Sep 12, 2015 Gambino Carlo rated it it was amazing
excellent story
Oct 05, 2010 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
gives a nice detailed insight into the struggle people faced under the cultural revolution in a 1st person account. but, the author shares his real motive behind writing this book: ' experiencing disaster my generation did learn one terribly important thing--the danger that lies in blind obedience.' probably a must read for anyone, especially students, who are forced to take in so much information without having time to process/critique and come up with their own ideas.
Jul 07, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I was assigned either this book or another for my Chinese history class in college. I chose the other, but loved it so much I went back and read this one too. I am fascinated by the Cultural Revolution so Liang's story really intrigued me. I will say, I found the ending a little dissatisfying in its brevity, but other than that it's a captivating true story that illustrates the familial/political/social strains placed on the Chinese during this time.
Zhen Engbrecht
Dec 27, 2007 Zhen Engbrecht rated it really liked it
This book is so interesting because it gives a personal account of a person's experiences during the cultural revolution. The descriptions of the political condition, the living condition, and the people in China at that time create multiple moods in the story. It is not a sad book, but a book about a boy developing into a man and all his joys and challenges. Also, I would recommend this to anyone interested in recent Chinese history.
Grace Best-Page
Jan 22, 2013 Grace Best-Page rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Very illuminating book. It illustrates the universal human condition of wanting to belong and how easily people can be manipulated. People everywhere and throughout all time have been used in the same way due to our penchant for believing what we're told and shutting our eyes to reality. This story helps us understand how the Cultural Revolution could have and did happen and serves as an object lesson for the future. Well worth your time.
Alison Stegert
I read this book back in the mid 80's while completing a degree in Mandarin Chinese and Asian Studies. I can honestly say that now, decades later, I am still haunted by some of the events in this book, particularly the heart-breaking description of the family's disintegration and subsequent years of privation. While not for the faint-hearted, I recommend this book for people who wish to understand the Cultural Revolution.
Oct 30, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-books, china
This book follows the author's life as he experiences the major movements in modern Chinese history. His parents are attacked in the Anti-Rightist campaign, he and his family is sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. However, it is not just a story of the movements, it is a story about people and how they were affected by these different campaigns. It makes the history more personal and relatable.
Jun 05, 2011 Cindy rated it really liked it
I thought it started out slow. I thought I wasn't going to like it but turns out I was wrong. It's an autobiography and the things this poor guy went through...just crazy. It's hard to believe a country would treat it's people like that. This is a book I may not have picked up on my own but it was a book club choice and I'm very glad I read it.
Feb 19, 2009 Holly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: modern history students; chinese history students
Recommended to Holly by: course requirement
I had to read this book for a modern world history course but I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. Since I didn't know very much about the cultural revolution that went on in China, this was an insightful book. I learned a lot about China and what the history of this period in China was. Very useful book for modern history students.
Emily Wiersma
Jul 11, 2011 Emily Wiersma rated it it was amazing
Always been fascinated by Chinese history and what they have had to endure, especially during the time of Mao's brutish reign. This book gives you an inside look at one man can control peoples individuals lives. The effects of Mao's reign can still be seen today and it makes you wonder not if, but when it will happen in America.
Ryan Long
Dec 31, 2010 Ryan Long rated it really liked it
Important lessons from living under a communist regime. Spent a little too much on the Cultural Revolution, so we don't get to know some of the more interesting details of Liang Heng's life. Of course, we find out why at the very end, but it still would have been nice to know. Good book, though. Highly recommended.
Aug 04, 2009 Molly rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This was a very reader friendly book in its language and style. I came away with a great deal of knowledge on the everyday life of a "low ranking" Chinese citizen during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I was blown away by the struggles of the Liang family as well as their neighbors and friends.
Jun 06, 2011 Sue rated it liked it
Recommended to Sue by: Michelle
Shelves: book-club
Read this book for book club. It was a very interesting read. I am so glad I live where I live. I would not want to have had the life that Liang Heng did, but I am glad that he shared his story with us. My rating if I could give fractions, would be 3.5 of 5 stars.
May 04, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
A compelling memoir of experiences in the Cultural Revolution. Education is undermined, family loyalty is non-existent, and a little boy practically raises himself amidst political turmoil, poverty, familial instability, and constant violence.
May 19, 2008 Marcie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history or China
Recommended to Marcie by: a customer at Borders in Columbus
This was a powerful and compelling tale of a man's journey and survival through Mao's Cultural Revolution. This was recommended by a bookstore customer I had the pleasure of conversing with. I am strongly passing on this recommendation.
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