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The World Turned Upside Down  By  cover art

The World Turned Upside Down

By: Yang Jisheng,Stacy Mosher - translator,Guo Jian - translator
Narrated by: Nancy Wu
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Publisher's Summary

As a major political event and a crucial turning point in the history of the People's Republic of China, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) marked the zenith as well as the nadir of Mao Zedong's ultra-leftist politics. Reacting in part to the Soviet Union's "revisionism" that he regarded as a threat to the future of socialism, Mao mobilized the masses in a battle against what he called "bourgeois" forces within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This 10-year-long class struggle on a massive scale devastated traditional Chinese culture as well as the nation's economy.

Following his groundbreaking and award-winning history of the Great Famine, Tombstone, Yang Jisheng here presents the only history of the Cultural Revolution by an independent scholar based in mainland China, and makes a crucial contribution to understanding those years' lasting influence today.

The World Turned Upside Down puts every political incident, major and minor, of those 10 years under extraordinary and withering scrutiny, and arrives in English at a moment when contemporary Chinese governance is leaning once more toward a highly centralized power structure and Mao-style cult of personality.

©2016 by Yang Jisheng. Translation copyright © 2021 by Yang Jisheng (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The World Turned Upside Down

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    4 out of 5 stars

Soooo much info...

I was really looking for a book that gave an overview of China’s cultural revolution, and what exactly was it. Also, i wanted to get an overview of Mao and his driving principles and philosophies.

This book does that, but also delves way into the minutiae. The benefits of this was a realistic image of Mao and life under his rule— as opposed to a politically polished image or overly hyped Western demonization. The drawbacks are that i come away from this book still thinking, “so what was the cultural revolution?!”

But maybe that’s the point. The eleven years of the cultural revolution was such mayhem that you cannot really define it. It truly was a period of seesawing conflicts with no defined missions nor accomplishments.

One final word of warning, despite the book’s forward stating that the book has been edited down to eliminate unnecessary numbers and figures, the book is still full of them. The book could easily be 8 hours shorter if footnotes were appropriately used. I don’t need to know the twelve names of high school students who wrote a character poster one night. I would prefer to read such info in a footnote when needed. I don’t need to know the number of people that died from each conceivable way of dying—a simple tally for all would suffice. I don’t need to know the names of each politician in attendance at a given meeting. Again... footnote that info.

I learned a lot, but i would’ve gotten more from a book that followed a few main players, and not digressed into the details of each and every possible person

5 people found this helpful

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Comprehensive, but fairly dry

This was a mixed bag. The author is clearly extremely knowledgeable and the content was well researched, but the prose was extremely academic in tone and it was a struggle to form a meaningful picture in the sea of names and dates. Commendable that the audiobook was produced, since the topic is important, but the text seems more like a reference book than a historical narrative.

1 person found this helpful

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Essential for understanding modern China.

An excellent and horrific look at modern Chinese marxism. Animal farm meets The Last Emperor.

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An exceptional (albeit quite dry) history.

A thorough history of the politics of the cultural revolution. It's packed with insights into the final years of Mao's reign and the struggles inside the communist party.