Living, Remembering and Forgetting China's Cultural Revolution
by Tania Branigan
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Pub Date 02 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 01 Mar 2023
A 13-year-old Red Guard revels in the great adventure, and struggles with her doubts. A silenced composer, facing death, determines to capture the turmoil. An idealistic student becomes the 'corpse master' . . .
More than fifty years on, the Cultural Revolution’s scar runs through the heart of Chinese society, and through the souls of its citizens. Stationed in Beijing for the Guardian, Tania Branigan came to realise that this brutal and turbulent decade continues to propel and shape China to this day. Yet official suppression and personal trauma have conspired in national amnesia: it exists, for the most part, as an absence.
Red Memory explores the stories of those who are driven to confront the era, fearing or yearning its return. What happens to a society when you can no longer trust those closest to you? What happens to the present when the past is buried, exploited or redrawn? And how do you live with yourself when the worst is over?
‘Red Memory left me with not a shred of doubt that the Cultural Revolution is still relevant to understanding modern day China, as well as the underpinnings of our own 21st century cultural clashes.’
Barbara Demick, author of NOTHING TO ENVY
‘The author blends history with journalism, and empathy with clarity, in a breathtaking work that hasn't left my mind since I finished reading it.’
Oliver Burkeman, author of FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS
‘Unfailingly acute, exceptionally humane — a masterpiece.’
Julia Lovell, author of MAOISM: A Global History
‘Brannigan’s ability to weave personal stories into their political context brings this complex story to life. A master class in storytelling and journalism.’
Gary Younge, author of ANOTHER DAY IN THE DEATH OF AMERICA
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