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A circumstantial and historically grounded study of the Cultural Revolution by a Nouvel Observateur writer who made a second visit to China in 1971. Karol praises Mao's shakeup of the Party bureaucracy; reshuffles of personnel and shifts of line are charted with abundant detail and tolerance for the way the Chinese people were not allowed to understand the actual issues at stake, though Karol deplores Mao's crude fabrication of decades-long plots by leaders now out of favor. Karol is at pains to depict Mao and Chou En-lai as the perennial ""left"" of the Communist movement and occasionally this involves factual distortions in the book's historical overviews (it is quite untrue that Mao has ""a record of continuous disobedience to Moscow"") and in the assertion that Lin Piao's ""encircle the paper tiger"" statement of September 1965 reflected passion for world revolution instead of a warning that China would give scant aid to the Vietnamese. Karol winces at Chinese hand-holding with any anti-Soviet force, no matter how reactionary, but approves detente with the U.S. and plays down the regime's current applause for NATO. His own enthusiasm for China is based on its repudiation of the U.S.S.R.'s industrialization priority though Karol denies that Maoism is anti-modernist or for labor-intensive measures. For all its sophistication, the book uncritically accepts the leadership's determination -- through all twists of upheaval and stabilization -- to keep the masses fixed on local issues and local figures while mouthing general Red Book slogans. The material itself (e.g., the lengthy account of the Shanghai diesel factory's ""Paris Commune"") remains noteworthy. Karol's earlier books include China: The Other Communism (1967) and the useful Guerrillas In Power: The Course of the Cuban Revolution (1970).

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1974
Publisher: Hill & Wang