March 24th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Liberals' broad church survive schism?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

ENVIRONMENT Europe's freeze further proof of global warming!

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals' Tasmanian victory: the implications

OPINION The height of absurdity: education as business

ECONOMICS AND CHINA Eyes averted from the dragon in the marketplace

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM The state attacking the Church: lessons from history

FAMILY POLITICS A Trojan horse for monitoring children

NORTH AMERICA The cultural and political mosaic that is Canada

CINEMA Mary Magdalene on film: a new interpretation

MUSIC Audio-visual: or, how to watch your music

CINEMA The Adventures of Tintin: A light amid the bleakness

BOOK REVIEW Taking arms against the gender fluid fad

BOOK REVIEW Narrative history from a great writer



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The Cultural Revolution: A People's History 1962-76

Frank Dik├Âtter


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Bloomsbury, London
Paperback: 432 pages
Price: AUD$27.95

Book description

Acclaimed by the Daily Mail as “definitive and harrowing”, this is the final volume of “The People’s Trilogy”, begun with the Samuel Johnson prize-winning Mao’s Great Famine. After the economic disaster of the Great Leap Forward that claimed tens of millions of lives between 1958 and 1962, an ageing Mao launched an ambitious scheme to shore up his reputation and eliminate those he viewed as a threat to his legacy.

The stated goal of the Cultural Revolution was to purge the country of bourgeois, capitalist elements he claimed were threatening genuine communist ideology. But the Chairman also used the Cultural Revolution to turn on his colleagues, some of them longstanding comrades-in-arms, subjecting them to public humiliation, imprisonment and torture. Young students formed Red Guards, vowing to defend the Chairman to the death, but soon rival factions started fighting each other in the streets with semi-automatic weapons in the name of revolutionary purity.

As the country descended into chaos, the military intervened, turning China into a garrison state marked by bloody purges that crushed as many as one in 50 people. When the army itself fell victim to the Cultural Revolution, ordinary people used the political chaos to resurrect the market and hollow out the party’s ideology. In short, they buried Maoism.

In-depth interviews and archival research at last give voice to the people and reveal the complex choices they faced, undermining the picture of conformity that is often believed to have characterised the last years of Mao’s regime. By demonstrating that decollectivisation from below was an unintended consequence of a decade of violent purges and entrenched fear, Frank Dikötter casts China’s most tumultuous era in a wholly new light.

Written with unprecedented access to previously classified party documents from secret police reports to unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches, this third chapter in Dikötter’s extraordinarily lucid and ground-breaking “People’s Trilogy” is a devastating reassessment of the history of the People’s Republic of China.

About the author

Frank Dikötter is Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China at the University of London. He has pioneered the use of archival sources and published 10 books that have changed the way historians view and understand China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China (1992) to his last book, entitled The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957 (2013). Frank Dikötter is married and lives in Hong Kong.

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