charlotte's Reviews > Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village

Fanshen by William Hinton
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's review
Mar 06, 2012

it was amazing
Read from March 06 to April 11, 2012

This is the kind of history book I really enjoy: an eyewitness account, filled with lots of anecdotes and dialogue with real people. But Hinton also has an excellent sense of context -- I especially appreciated the overview of daily life in Long Bow Village that begins the book, history and cultural trends -- and he's got a novelist's sense of setting and detail. Very readable. And indispensable if you are serious about social change, especially the practical application of communism. Anyone who believes that real human beings can collectively struggle for a just, egalitarian society, ought to read this. And anyone who doubts it. Hinton is clearly a narrator sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party (as I am, in its origins), but he doesn't shy away from the petty, nasty, and brutal potential in human behavior, either. There are beatings, rapes, homicides, gossip-mongering and abuses of power. What's more interesting to me (and to Hinton) is how the Party and local acitivists responded to these problems and work at institutional, systemic reforms. You will deeply care about the people in this book, halfway doubt that it could have all happened the way Hinton says, and desperately hope that it did. (and that it can happen again)
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