This illuminating work examines the social, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of the Communist takeover of China. Instead of dwelling on elite politics and policy-making processes, Dilemmas of Victory seeks to understand how the 1949-1953 period was experienced by various groups, including industrialists, filmmakers, ethnic minorities, educators, rural midwives, philanthropists, stand-up comics, and scientists.
A stellar group of authors that includes Frederic Wakeman, Elizabeth Perry, Sherman Cochran, Perry Link, Joseph Esherick, and Chen Jian shows that the Communists sometimes achieved a remarkably smooth takeover, yet at other times appeared shockingly incompetent. Shanghai and Beijing experienced it in ways that differed dramatically from Xinjiang, Tibet, and Dalian. Out of necessity, the new regime often showed restraint and flexibility, courting the influential and educated. Furthermore, many policies of the old Nationalist regime were quietly embraced by the new Communist rulers.
Based on previously unseen archival documents as well as oral histories, these lively, readable essays provide the fullest picture to date of the early years of the People's Republic, which were far more pluralistic, diverse, and hopeful than the Maoist decades that followed.
The history of the early People's Republic is one of the more exciting frontiers in the study of modern China. These essays show that it is possible to address many central issues in the history of the early 1950s from perspectives other than those of the central government or party. Very well researched and well written, Dilemmas of Victory will receive wide attention, and I recommend it with enthusiasm.
This important book opens up a critical, and virtually unresearched, period in PRC history in strikingly original ways. Combining strong essays by leading specialists with the creative work of a new generation of scholars, it will be widely discussed by China specialists and comparativists across history, the social sciences, and the humanities.
Strongly recommended. This rich and textured book brings to life a complex period, filling a major gap in our understanding of the early years of the People's Republic of China. In discussing the viability of "New Democracy," the book will provoke debate about how and under what circumstances the transition to socialism began. The many thoroughly researched stories in this important book will be of interest to a large audience.
The authors of the essays contained in this volume bring with them an extraordinarily wide range of different disciplinary and personal interests ranging from Chen Jian's political history of the takeover of Tibet, through Perry Link's literary analysis of comic skits, to Gail Hershatter's accounts of the changing lives of rural midwives...[It's] a fascinating read sparking a whole variety of new ways of looking at the 1949 revolution and the early People's Republic.
Taking advantage of access to new sources in Chinese and even U.S. archives, personal papers, and oral interviews with surviving individuals, these essays compel a reconsideration of the early communist period...Indispensable reading for understanding Chinese society and the nascent communist state in 1949-1953.
- 480 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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