Red flower of China
"When I first saw a Red Guard remove her canvas belt to beat her victim and...his clothes tear and blood appear on his skin, I was afraid. I was not the most bloodthirsty person in the world....However, I was a Red Guard leader and a member of my school's Revolutionary Committee....If by beating these people....I could prove my valour in the class struggle, I would do it. Thus, when that Red Guard left off, I removed my belt and learned to beat like her....After a few beatings, I no longer needed to rehearse the rationale behind them. My heart hardened and l became used to the blood. I waved my belt like an automaton and whipped with an empty mind....The Cultural Revolution had transformed me into a devil."
So writes Zhai Zhenhua in Red Flower of China, a brutally honest portrait of the Cultural Revolution, as told by someone who was not only a witness to this dramatic period of history, but was also a participant in it. Zhai Zhenhua was born in 1951, two years after the Communist Party took over China. Her parents were revolutionary supporters of Chairman Mao, and she was schooled in political correctness and party loyalty. But 1966 brought the Cultural Revolution, and fifteen-year-old Zhenhua was swept up by the events taking place around her. She joined the Red Guard, led raids on homes, and cold-bloodedly beat her fellow citizens.
Soon, however, the Red Guard also fell into disfavour. Zhai was purged and sent to one of the most destitute regions of China to do back-breaking work and be re-educated before becoming one of a handful of students selected to attend university.
Zhai Zhenhua does not minimize her role in the excesses of the times. Red Flower of China is an intensely personal account of her eventful early life and of acts which still torture her conscience.
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Review: Red Flower of China: An AutobiographyUser Review - Goodreads
Fascinating first-hand account of China's Cultural Revolution. Though the writing style isn't very impressive, the message is. Zhenua does a wonderful job explaining how individuals got caught up in ... Read full review
Review: Red Flower of China: An AutobiographyUser Review - Colleen - Goodreads
A badly written autobiographical novel of a young woman swept into the hysteria of the Cultural Revolution. I had hoped for some sort of answers about motivations for actions other than "that's the ... Read full review
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