I have read Dikotter's earlier Mao's great Famine. I just finished this. A very well-written and enjoyable (albeit tremendously sad) book.
First, I am a fan for some reason of history of mid-20th century political pathologies. So I have read a lot of Stalin books and a lot of Hitler books. If you are not particularly interested in that topic--or more particularly interested in China--then you may find this dry. But if you have any interest at all in the topic, you will find it enjoyable.
The story is told in chapters that correspond to phases of the Cultural Revolution. This makes the book a little hard to follow, since (this was one thing I learned) the Cultural Revolution was far from linear. Mao lent support first to one faction then to another. Power ebbed and flowed between factions, yesterday's political oppressors becoming today's political prisoners (and then back again).
Random amazing fact: Demand, instilled by a desire to avoid being politically suspect, for copies of Mao's Little Red Book was so high that industrial output had to be redirected; soap production fell by 15% nationally to allow for production of the book.
For the general reader (like me) the book is well written and clear enough to be enjoyable. From the footnotes, it appears the Dikotter has been in the archives a lot. Nealy all the notes refer to original sources.
- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (1 May 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1408856492
- ISBN-13: 978-1408856499
- Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 4 x 16.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 762 g
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