600 MILLION CHINESE by Robert Guillain


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The author of this long, sincere, and somewhat overcrowded book is a Frenchman, foreign correspondent for Le Monde who knew China well before the Communist upheaval and has since revisited it. Obviously endeavoring to present as fair a picture as possible, he tells of the death of the old regime and the achievements of the new- the immense material improvement for the masses, appalling regimentation, and the total disappearance of the old Chinese sense of humor- to him the worst casualty of the revolution. The book, completed in 1956, illustrates the dangers of flat and didactic statements; Guillain insists that the mass production of ""right thinkers"" has been so successful that the Chinese have lost both the ability and desire to think for themselves and accept without question everything told them by those in power. (Recent reports from China would seem to disprove this.) He also tells of the ""Russification"" of China and the dependence of its present rulers on Russia, which again would seem in the light of recent occurrences open to doubt.... Although well written, the book is not an easy one to read, and it is a difficult one for the uninformed reader to appraise.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1957
Publisher: Criterion