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The Cultural Revolution on Trial
Mao and the Gang of Four

$29.99 (G)

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  • Date Published: November 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521135290

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • The trial of Cultural Revolution leaders, including Mao's widow and her Gang of Four, was the signal event in China's post-Mao transition. In its wake, Chinese socialism emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution to create the China that we know today. This spectacular show trial was a curious example of transitional justice, marking a break from the trauma of the past, a shift to the present era of reform, and a blueprint for building a better future. In this groundbreaking reconstruction of the most famous trial in Chinese history, Alex Cook shows how the event laid the cornerstone for a new model of socialist justice; at the same time, a comparison of official political and legal sources with works of popular literature reveals the conflicted cultural dimensions of this justice. The result, Cook argues, saved Chinese socialism as ruling ideology, but at the cost of its revolutionary soul.

    • Helps readers to conceptualize the contemporary era in historical perspective as one of the first historical works on post-Mao China
    • Draws on a rich archive of political, legal and literary sources
    • The first academic study of the most famous trial in Chinese history
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    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is an excellent exploration of the cultural politics of post-Mao China as well as an important contribution to the study of the global unfolding of legal modernity. Drawing on an exceptionally wide-ranging archive, Cook analyzes the contradictions between legality and humanity at a critical point in China’s transition.' Teemu Ruskola, Emory University, Atlanta

    'Alexander C. Cook’s new book, The Cultural Revolution on Trial, is a significant contribution to the study of the historical trial of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing’s counterrevolutionary cliques … Cook should be complimented for such a unique approach to studying the trial. He demonstrates his broad knowledge not only of the trial and the legal documents, but also of the literature of political trials in general, as well as of contemporary Chinese literature. The entire book is an intensive reading and Cook’s discoveries are profound.' Qiu Jin, The American Historical Review

    ‘Alternating courtroom-based chapters on the trial with knowledgeable snapshots of the culture of the post-Maoist transformation, Cook conjures a realistic image of a conflicted society undergoing far-reaching change … he carefully unpacks the ‘linguistic and symbolic freight’ of the Gang of Four trial narratives and reveals their ‘hidden contents’. By so doing, Cook enables readers to see the most important trial in Chinese history from different angles.’ Jens Meierhenrich, The English Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521135290
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Indictment
    2. Monsters
    3. Testimony
    4. Emotions
    5. Verdict
    6. Vanity
    Index of Chinese terms

  • Author

    Alexander C. Cook, Stanford University, California
    Alexander C. Cook is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously a Stanford Humanities Fellow and Fulbright Student, he holds a PhD with distinction in History from Columbia University, New York. His research focuses on the history of Maoism in its global and domestic contexts. He is editor of the volume Mao's Little Red Book: A Global History, and has contributed chapters to the volumes Law and History (2004), A Critical Introduction to Mao (Cambridge, 2010), and Scripting Revolution (2015), as well as the forthcoming volumes Political Trials and The Cambridge History of Communism, Volume 3.


    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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