CHINA WINTER: Workers, Mandarins, and the Purge of the Gang of Four by Edoarda Masi

CHINA WINTER: Workers, Mandarins, and the Purge of the Gang of Four

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Edoarda Masi taught Italian at a Shanghai school in 1976-77 (after being at Peking University in 1957-58); lived through the death of Mao and the new leadership's attack on the Gang of Four; and was made uneasy by what she witnessed. That, however, is about all her diary has to impart. (Composed of straight descriptive entries, together with discursive evaluations set in italics, it is also clumsy to read.) Masi tried to get close to her Chinese students, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances; and failed. The rigid separation of public and private was solidified by the political machinations going on over people's heads and reflected, routinely, in everyday life. (Word came over the BBC of the arrest of the Gang of Four, we're told, while the Chinese press carried banal stories without a mention of what was going on.) Masi, a qualified admirer of Mao, thinks the Cultural Revolution never got the leadership it deserved; still, its spirit of egalitarianism and participation puts it higher, in her estimation, than today's new mandarinism. Her concern (if not her analysis) is convincing, and close followers of the Chinese scene may find her eyewitness account of the '76-77 convulsion informative; but for the new China, viewed with self-effacing humor and greater intimacy, readers have only to turn to Orville Schell's 1980 ""Watch Out for the Foreign Guests!"" And for a thoroughgoing Mao-to-post-Mao study, replete with facts and personal stories, the book is Fox Butterfield's brand-new China (p. 384).

Pub Date: June 30th, 1982
Publisher: Dutton