14     The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)


Primary Resources 


Document 14.1


Excerpts from "One Hundred Items for Destroying the Old and Establishing the New," created by Red Guards at the #26 Middle School, Beijing, August 1966


Document 14.2


"The Red Guards Cut Your Mother's Hair," an excerpt from Growing Up in the People's Republic:  Conversations Between Two Daughters of China's Revolution by Yu Weili and Mao Xiaodong


Document 14.3


Interview with Charles Wang about effects of the Cultural Revolution on his life and his village, 2012

Document 14.4

Excerpt from Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, 1991


Document 14.5


Excerpts describing the personal experiences of Nathan Hu during the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, written in 2006–2007

Document 14.6, a&b

Posters from the Cultural Revolution


Document 14.7


“I Now Knew the Face of Poverty,” an excerpt from Growing Up in the People’s Republic: Conversations Between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution by Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong, 2005


Document 14.8


“Singing Our Turbulent Youth,” an excerpt from Growing Up in the People’s Republic: Conversations Between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution by Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong, 2005


Document 14.9


Excerpts describing the personal experiences of Nathan Hu as a “sent-down youth,” written in 2007


Document 14.10



Descriptions of two women’s reactions to the Cultural Revolution, an excerpt from Growing Up in the People’s Republic: Conversations Between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution by Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong, 2005

Document 14.11

A peasant’s reflection on Mao Zedong, from an interview conducted in the early 1980s


Document 14.12


Poster depicting people swimming across the Yangzi River, emulating Mao’s crossing ten years earlier, 1976

Document 14.13

Photograph of people waiting to visit Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, Beijing, April 2011



Activity Websites


A Closer Look: Lei Feng and His Diary

Posters of Lei Feng



Suggested Resources




Cheek, Timothy. Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions:  A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002.
A collection of essays on Mao and the Chairman’s own writing and speeches.


Cheng, Nien. Life and Death in Shanghai. New York: Grove Press, 1987.


Dai Sijie. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Translated by Ina Rilke. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.

A novel about two teenage boys’ time as “sent-down” youth being re-educated in a Sichuan mountain village. Highly recommended for teens and adults. This book was adapted as a feature film in 2005.


Francis, Gregory and Stefanie Lamb. China’s Cultural Revolution. Stanford: Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), 2005.

A high school curriculum unit about the Cultural Revolution.


Ha Jin. Under the Red Flag: Stories. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997.


Jiang, Yarong and David Ashley. Mao’s Children in the New China: Voices from the Red Guard Generation. New York: Routledge, 2000.

A collection of interviews with former Red Guard members who talk about the effects of the Cultural Revolution on themselves and their experiences in the “New China” of the late twentieth century.


Kissinger, Henry. “China Confronts Both Superpowers.” On China. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.

This chapter describes China’s relationships with the United States and the Soviet Union including the Sino-Soviet split.


Landsberger, Stefan. Chinese Propaganda Posters: From Revolution to Modernization. Amsterdam: The Pepin Press, 1998.

Text and images detail the role of posters in the People’s Republic of China.


Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro. Son of the Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

Liang Heng engages young adults in his own and his family’s experiences living with the erratic policies of Mao Zedong.


Luthi, Lorenz M. The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.


MacFarquhar, Roderick and Michael Schoenhals. Mao’s Last Revolution. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2006.


Mao, Zedong. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1966.

Also known as Mao’s Little Red Book.


Spence, Jonathan D. Mao Zedong. New York: Viking, 1999.

A short biography by one of the most well-known China scholars.


Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong. Growing Up in the People’s Republic: Conversations Between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

A highly readable and thoughtful exploration of the two women’s experiences and the legacy of the Cultural Revolution.


Yu, Chun. Little Green: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Written in poetic form from a child’s perspective, a poignant account of the experiences of one family. 




Bibliography of the Cultural Revolution, University of Maine at Farmington

A bibliography of resources about the Cultural Revolution compiled by Marilyn Shea, Department of Psychology.


Chinese Posters: Propaganda, Politics, History, Art

Digitized posters from the collections of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam and Stefan R. Landsberger.


Cultural Revolution, A Visual Sourcebook for Chinese Civilization

Information and posters from the Cultural Revolution.


Morning Sun: A Film and Website about Cultural Revolution

A site created by the Long Bow Group as a companion to the documentary Morning Sun. The site includes articles, images, and multimedia about the Cultural Revolution with the full-text of Mao’s Little Red Book.


Songs of China’s Cultural Revolution

A collection of songs from the Cultural Revolution compiled by William A. Joseph, Department of Political Science, Wellesley College. 




Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (111 mins; 2005)

A feature film adaptation of Dai Sijie’s novel. In Mandarin with subtitles.


The Blue Kite (138 mins; 1993)

The film captures how the turbulent political times affected the lives of citizens. In Mandarin with subtitles.


Morning Sun (120 mins; 2003)

This documentary provides a multi-perspective view of a tumultuous period as seen through the eyes of a generation born at the time the People’s Republic of China was founded.


To Live (133 mins; 1994)

This film spans four decades of the twentieth century in China. It tells the story of a couple and their two children as they struggle to survive the constantly changing political climate. In Mandarin with subtitles.



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