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Mao Cult
Rhetoric and Ritual in China's Cultural Revolution

$29.99 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521152228

$ 29.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Mao Zedong's political and cultural legacy remains potent even in today's China. There have been many books that have explored his posthumous legacy, but none that has scrutinized the cult of Mao and the massive worship that was fostered around him at the height of his powers during the Cultural Revolution. This riveting book is the first to do so. By analyzing previously secret archival documents, obscure objects, and political pamphlets, Daniel Leese traces the tumultuous history of the cult within the Communist Party and at the grassroots level. The Party leadership's original intention was to develop a prominent brand symbol, which would compete with the nationalists' elevation of Chiang Kai-shek. They did not, however, anticipate that Mao would use this symbolic power to mobilize Chinese youth to rebel against party bureaucracy itself. The result was anarchy, and when the army was called in, it relied on mandatory rituals of worship, such as daily reading of the Little Red Book or performances of 'the loyalty dance', to restore order. Such fascinating detail sheds light not only on the personality cult of Mao, but also on hero-worship in other traditions.

    • The first book to focus on Mao worship and the cult built around him by the Communist Party
    • Based on new sources which reveal fascinating detail about mandatory rituals imposed by the elite and adopted with enthusiasm by the grass-roots of society
    • An entirely new perspective on Mao and his revolution
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Leese charts the rise of Mao's cult in clear stages, with an excellent eye for its intricacies.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521152228
    • length: 324 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Coming to Terms with 'Cult of the Individual':
    1. The secret speech and its impact
    2. The dual nature of commodities
    3. Redefining the cult
    Part II. Charismatic Mobilization:
    4. Lively study and application
    5. The Little Red Book
    6. Spectacles of worship
    Part III. Cult and Compliance:
    7. Ambiguous symbols
    8. The language of loyalty
    9. Rituals and commodities
    10. Curbing the cult.

  • Author

    Daniel Leese, Freiburg University
    Daniel Leese is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. He is the editor of Brill's Encyclopedia of China (2008).

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