In This Review

Mao's Last Revolution
Mao's Last Revolution
By Roderick Macfarquahar and Michael Schoenhals
Harvard University Press, 2006, 752 pp

With his three-volume The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, MacFarquhar established himself as the leading authority on the Cultural Revolution. Now, in collaboration with Schoenhals, he has produced a massive single-volume account of the event and of Mao Zedong's revolutionary ways. Although the authors indicate that they have in mind an audience that includes new generations of students of China, it would be wrong to think of this work as a general survey of the subject, for it is an outstanding and creative scholarly work. They have skillfully brought into the study much new information from several newly opened archives and the memoirs of participating Chinese officials. Rather than advancing any provocative new theory, the book carefully reconstructs the history of elite politics under Mao, with a focus on the changing alignments of friends, enemies, and "enemies of the people." It also addresses the unique role of students and Red Guards. (In a one-month period in 1966, Red Guards looted 33,695 homes in Beijing and 84,222 in Shanghai.) MacFarquhar and Schoenhals make clear that although innumerable people did awful things, the blame for the chaos falls squarely on Mao and his obsession with revolution.