In 1966 an ageing Mao launched an ambitious scheme to consolidate his legacy, unleashing Red Guards against all remnants of old Chinese culture. Soon rival factions were fighting each other in the streets with semi-automatic weapons in the name of revolutionary purity. The military intervened, turning the country into a garrison state marked by bloody purges that killed as many as one in fifty people. But after the army itself fell victim to the Cultural Revolution, ordinary villagers saw an opportunity to undermine the planned economy and resurrect the market. As fresh evidence from the archives shows, they quietly buried Maoism.
Frank Dikötter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China at the University of London. He has pioneered the use of archival sources and published ten books that have changed the way historians view and understand China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China (1992) to his last book entitled The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957 (2013). Frank Dikötter is married and lives in Hong Kong.