Learn about a fascinating period in Chinese history with these 5 must-read books about the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
1. On China by Henry Kissinger
“In this sweeping and insightful history, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to a country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. On China illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and tight line modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, and Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing. With a new final chapter on the emerging superpower’s twenty-first-century role in global politics and economics, On China provides historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the premier statesmen of our time.”
2. Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin
“Ha Jin profoundly understands the conflict between the individual and society, between the timeless universality of the human heart and constantly shifting politics of the moment. With wisdom, restraint, and empathy for all his characters, he vividly reveals the complexities and subtleties of a world and a people we desperately need to know.”—Judges’ Citation, National Book Award
3. From Tea to Coffee: The Journey of an “Educated Youth” by Cheng Wang
“From Tea to Coffee is the story of struggle and triumph during China’s modern-day cultural and political drama, and is a rare and personal account that showcases the Chinese national psyche. Like all political movements of the past, the Cultural Revolution was not the first of its kind, nor quite possibly the last, yet Cheng Wang, now at home in both America and in China, maintains an optimism that is rare and welcome in confronting today’s social polarization in the East and in the West.”
4. Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America by Weijian Shan
Weijian Shan’s Out of the Gobi is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to re-shape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America.
5. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962―1976 by Frank Dikötter
“The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962–1976 draws for the first time on hundreds of previously classified party documents, from secret police reports to unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches. Frank Dikötter uses this wealth of material to undermine the picture of complete conformity that is often supposed to have characterized the last years of the Mao era. After 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. By showing how economic reform from below was an unintended consequence of a decade of violent purges and entrenched fear, The Cultural Revolution casts China’s most tumultuous era in a wholly new light.”
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