Mao's Little Red Book: A Global History

Mao's Little Red Book: A Global History

Alexander C. Cook

Language: English

Pages: 299

ISBN: 1107665647

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Mao Zedong's Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao) - a compilation of the Chinese leader's speeches and writings - is one of the most visible and ubiquitous symbols of twentieth-century radicalism. Published for the first time in 1964, it rapidly became the must-have accessory for Red Guards and revolutionaries from Berkeley to Bamako. Yet, despite its worldwide circulation and enduring presence there has, until now, been no serious scholarly effort to understand this seminal text as a global historical phenomenon. Mao's Little Red Book brings together a range of innovative scholars from around the world to explore the fascinating variety of uses and forms that Mao's Quotations has taken, from rhetoric, art and song, to talisman, badge, and weapon. The authors of this pioneering volume use Mao's Quotations as a medium through which to re-examine the history of the twentieth-century world, challenging established ideas about the book to reveal its remarkable global impact.

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introduced by Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century, had gone on to become a staple of Chinese school life and political ritual in the early decades of the twentieth.13 Yet, as Liang Maochun points out, the appearance of the songs was accompanied by a “theoretical” apparatus – outlined in a series of articles in prominent publications – that insisted (as the People’s Daily put it) on the unprecedented “novelty of the form.”14 To the extent that quotation songs were designed from the

Maochun has noted, the distinct musical aesthetics of the Cultural Revolution have been characterized as “high, fast, hard, and loud.”28 This phrase, of course, could easily be applied to rock and roll, and for reasons that are not entirely coincidental. For when one turns to the recorded versions of the quotation songs released by China Records in 1966, it is immediately apparent that the music has been engineered so as to wring the maximum aural impact from limited technical means. 26 27 28

by the party in the period in which this generation was coming of age, celebrated martyrdom and revolutionary heroes. It exalted violence as a necessary means of revolution and glorified death for the cause of revolution. The entire education of this generation in the seventeen years prior to the Cultural Revolution, whether it was formal education at school or informal education through films, arts, and children’s picture books, was suffused with these messages of heroic martyrdom.14 In his study

considers the Third World, Second World, and First World in turn. Sreemati Chakrabarti argues that in India, where Third World Maoism had the greatest influence during the Cultural Revolution period and where Maoism continues to exert influence today, the heyday of the Little Red Book was brief. Likewise, David Scott Palmer shows that the leaders of Peru’s Shining Path patterned their violent crusade on simplistic adaptations of Maoist principles, often to the detriment of those they claimed to

pp. 9–39; Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007). 106 Priya Lal spearheading the Pan African Freedom Movement of East, Central, and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) and hosting the Liberation Committee of the Organization of African Unity in Dar es Salaam from 1963 onward. Tanzania served as a base for anti-colonial and anti-apartheid movements from South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, housing their operational

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