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Collective Killings in Rural China during the Cultural Revolution.

Collective Killings in Rural China during the Cultural Revolution. Yang Su. Cambridge University Press. [pounds sterling] 55.00 (US$90.00). xiv + 300 pages. ISBN 978-0-521-19808-0. Among the long list of atrocities committed under the guise of Communism. China's Cultural Revolution is exceeded in horror only by Lenin's and Stalin's policies of the 1920s and early 1930s. As the author writes, it is a history of 'extreme suffering inflicted by extreme cruelly' and this was suffering which Yang Su saw al first hand. The author uses personal recollections and those of numerous eye-witnesses to describe what happened and begins the book's analysis with one individual murdered by a neighbour because the victim's father had been a landlord". The book is also concerned with wider questions: why do people turn against their neighbours for even state-sponsored genocide depends ultimately on local cooperation. The book concentrates on individuals and their communities rather than on the regime in Peking and argues that the Cultural Revolution, as seen in the countryside, was far more violent and had longer reaching social consequences than hitherto thought. The book is concerned with two provinces and with the period from 1966 to 1969 after which the "revolution", ii argues, entered a different stage. The book also argues, rightly, that the killings were rooted in the history of Mao's China: they were not an aberration. The events described here continue to shock but it is a history that needs to be told and retold. The larger questions raised bl the author are as relevant as the plight of those chosen to die. (A.J.B.)

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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2011
Words:266
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