September 1, 2007

JAMES FALLOWS POINTS TO A BOOK ON THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION: Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China, which tells a story that hasn’t gotten a lot of traction in the West:

Fewer and fewer people can actually remember the 1930s or 1940s, but we all feel we have a sense of what the Nazi era was like in Europe. There are so many novels, so many movies, so many memoirs, so many museums, so much accumulated lore, apart from the histories and analyses themselves. Life under Stalin is not quite as amply rendered for a world audience, but thanks to legions of Russian writers everyone has some idea.

For obvious reasons, there are far fewer public representations and reminders of daily life in China during the Cultural Revolution. Main reason: the current Chinese government is still uneasy about backwards looks at that era. Such documents as do exist, in Chinese, are less accessible to the rest of the world than are the German, French, English, Russian, etc memoirs of Word War II.

He calls Confessions “a brilliant addition to the existing evidence.” The reader reviews are quite positive, too.

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