Mao’s Last Revolution: my long-overdue making up of a missed history lesson

The Great Proletarian Culture Revolution (GPCR) is a practically banned topic in China’s elementary, middle school, and high school education.  Though the history textbook in my high school contains a very short chapter which gives the “official” explanation of GPCR, as this topic is not covered in any kind of exam, the chapter is usually ignored by the teacher. All my knowledge about GPCR before reading this book is from scattered pieces of literature, documentaries, and accounts of their own experiences from elder family members. This book provides me a highly detailed, well organized, and fairly commented review of that period of China history.

There are in total three versions of definitions of GPCR I have heard. The official version in my high school textbook is roughly like: GPCR is a revolution that was started by Chairman Mao for good purpose, but somehow led to a wrong path by the evil “Gang of four” and Lin Biao. The second version from a documentary by a Hong Kong TV program is that GPCR is a socialism experiment that was conducted by Mao, and unfortunately ended in failure. The third version is from various “unofficial” literature, including this book, that GPCR is nothing but a bloody power struggle that Mao planned and carried out to purge the potential intra-party enemy in his imagination to ensure his own authority. Considering the evidences supporting the three different explanations, I’m convinced by the third version.

Sadly, like Gao Xingjian has said in his book “One Man’s Bible”:
Furthermore, it is very likely that when people have forgotten about it, it will make a comeback, and people who have never gone crazy will go crazy, and people who have never been oppressed will oppress or be oppressed.
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