A REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY: A Feast of Images of the Maoist Transformation of China by Richard H. Solomon

A REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY: A Feast of Images of the Maoist Transformation of China

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Or How To Think About Mao's China: A didactic exercise in pictures, quotes, and capsule paragraphs (with due credit to Marshall McLuhan). Projecting American misconceptions about China, from Fu Manchu to a 1968 New York Times gaffe, Solomon concludes that we've been ""Mything the Point"" all along. He would have us view China rather in terms of key concepts: ""Eating,"" ""Words,"" ""Emulation,"" ""Isolation,"" ""Swimming,"" and a catchall--""Contradictions."" Thus the traditional ""oral interdependence of generations"" is seen to underlie such verbal images as ""eating one's enemy"" (the Kuomintang) and a refusal to ""feed on meals cooked for us"" (by the Soviets); ""the emulation concept of leadership"" explains the influence of ""the apparently successful Marxist-Leninist revolution in neighboring Russia""--as well as more obvious later developments; and as for ""Swimming,"" the young Mao once threatened suicide in pique at his father, then ""rather than drown, [he] taught himself to swim""--an example of ""physical assertiveness"" leading ""to his eventual political rebellion."" Mao's celebrated swim in the Yangtze in 1966 is the predictable climax of this sequence. Besides its other glaring weaknesses, this approach requires Solomon to cover the same historical ground repeatedly, and never produces a coherent narrative of events. Nor is there much critical analysis of Maoist claims. This sort of thing might pass on TV but one expects more discretion, clarity, and judgment from a book.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1976
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday