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11 July 2007

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Written by Ji-li Jiang

History has shown that during a time of political revolution many innocent and not so innocent people are persecuted for being against the revolution, their voices silenced forever or for the time being. This was particularly the case when Mao Ze Dong took over as the leader of China, he began several initiatives or revolutions. One of these was the Cultural Revolution. Many of China’s people were caught up in the excitement in moving their nation towards a better nation. However, there were some who critisized the initiatives and found themselves persecuted for their opinions. As more and more people sought to rid China of the counter-revolutionists, they found that the slippery slope to a perfect soldier of China was as treacherous as trying to tame an alligator.

This is a memoir of the author as a 12 year-old girl. Like many of her peers, the author too wanted to join the Cultural Revolution. But her deceased grandfather, whom she barely remembers, was a landlord and thus her family was considered as “black,” or against the Cultural Revolution.

This book is based on the 2-year time frame when the author struggled to fit in where she is a social outcast, and tried to reconcile current political ideology while maintaining her loyalty to her family. This is a fascinating book that zips along but the fear and confusion is palpable; at time a bit overwhelming. This is a good look at what happens when a family is caught on the other side of a revolution, as much of the Loyalists found themselves during the American Revolution.