AFTER THE NIGHTMARE: A Survivor of the Cultural Revolution Reports on China Today by Liang and Judith Shapiro Heng

AFTER THE NIGHTMARE: A Survivor of the Cultural Revolution Reports on China Today

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

May of this year is the 20th anniversary of Mao's Cultural Revolution, which tumbled China into a maelstrom of fear and turmoil. One of those who remembered--who, indeed, as a child took up the gauntlet for Mao--was Heng. But Heng became a rebel and was forced to choose between his country or freedom. Having married an American, he chose to leave and became a US citizen, never expecting to be allowed to return. Having written of his sufferings in Son of the Revolution (1983), he had the opportunity to return to China to visit in 1985. He and his wife, Judith, traveled to many of the scenes of his earlier, turmultuous life--from peasant villages to Beijing, Shanghai, Canton, and Xi'an in the north mountains. . .even to Hunan, Mao's birthplace. What he learned firsthand was China was changing, sucking in the first breath of air of small freedoms that it had not known for over four decades. The government was even experimenting with ""economic free zones,"" especially in the south, near the Hong Kong border, and Chinese people were flocking there, ironically led by the capitalist impulse to make their fortunes in industries new to their stunted economy. All of this was a revelation to the visitors. Yet over it all hangs a pall: "". . .If you looked deeper, even in this golden time of growth and relaxation, you would find, just below the surface, many of the familiar failings, habits, and distortions of reality that had brought the nightmare upon us in the first place. It was easy to fear that the seeds of new disasters lay amid the optimism. . ."" One of the best books on the new China, written by two sensitive and literate observers.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1986
Publisher: Knopf