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From Tenderness to Savagery in Seconds

From Tenderness to Savagery in Seconds

 
 

Much nonsense has been written about the Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking. We know this much: in December 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army, after taking the Chinese Nationalist capital of Nanjing, went on a six-week rampage, looting, murdering, and raping large numbers of people. Since no records were kept of these atrocities, the exact number of victims is unknown. The official Chinese figure is 300,000 dead, which is probably an exaggeration. Some conservative Japanese historians put the number in the tens of thousands, which may be too low.1 Some Japanese nationalists, more interested in their political agenda than historical accuracy, claim that the “so-called” massacre never really occurred at all, but is a fiction of Chinese propaganda.

Such nationalist claims have led to further misconceptions. It is widely believed, for example, that the horrible events of 1937 have been consistently denied by most Japanese, and that the true story only emerged in 1998 with Iris Chang’s US best seller, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.2 This notion of Nanking as the forgotten Holocaust, on a par with Nazi mass murder, was promoted by Chang and her many admirers. For example, Chang likened the brave American missionary Minnie Vautrin, who tried to protect Chinese women from rape and murder, and committed suicide in the US three years later, to Anne Frank. This type of loose comparison, as well as some factual mistakes, made it easier for nationalists in Japan to dismiss her work entirely. Chang took her own life in 2004.

The drawing of parallels between the Rape of Nanking and the Nazi Holocaust actually goes back to the Tokyo War Crime Trials in 1946, when Japanese wartime leaders were held accountable for “crimes against humanity,” thought to be comparable to the planned Nazi genocide. Nanking became a symbol of Japanese evil. And the comparisons stuck. In an otherwise sensible review of the film City of Life and Death, J. Hoberman talks about “the presentation of downtown Nanking as a de facto Auschwitz.”3

* * *

Nanking was not Auschwitz, nor, in fact, does the movie lay claim to such parallels. To distinguish between atrocities does not diminish the horror, but without clarity on these matters history recedes into myth and becomes a form of propaganda. Auschwitz is the symbol of a systematic program to exterminate an entire people. What happened in Nanking is that a large ill-disciplined army ran amok among the mostly civilian population of a great city.


iconRobyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

This 1937 file photo shows Japanese Imperial Army soldiers about to behead a Chinese man in Nanjing during the occupation of the city.

Far from being forgotten in Japan, the massacre has been the subject of heated debates in the mass media at least since the early 1970s, when the journalist Honda Katsuichi wrote a best seller about it, based on his interviews with Chinese survivors.4 Honda stuck closely to the official Chinese version of the massacre, which prompted his right-wing opponents to denounce him as a promoter of leftist propaganda. But the controversy also spurred serious Japanese historians to reconsider the matter. Even a conservative scholar such as Hata Ikuhiko, who believes that the death toll was closer to 40,000, which is less than most mainstream Japanese historians think, would not dream of denying the atrocious nature of the Rape of Nanking.

There is also a misunderstanding about the official Chinese attitude toward the history of the massacre. Until the mid-1980s, the Communist government barely mentioned it, but not because it wished to maintain good relations with Japan, as some have claimed.5 The fact is that Nanking, in 1937, was the capital of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. The Communists were far away when the massacre occurred. And in any case, Mao’s regime was interested in heroic narratives, not martyrology.

If anything, the Nationalists were often blamed by Chinese for what happened in Nanking. Before the Japanese breached the city walls, the Chinese officer corps, crack army units, and the entire government administration, as well as their families, had already fled the city. Without any government left, the hastily improvised “safety zone,” filled with terrified Chinese refugees, had to be organized by a handful of foreign missionaries and a Nazi representative of the Siemens company named John Rabe, who naively sent a letter after the event to his Führer, informing him of the Japanese atrocities. The Führer was not impressed, and Rabe, on his return to Germany, was detained by the Gestapo for stirring up trouble between allies.

The rest of the Chinese population, including thousands of soldiers who had quickly changed into civilian clothes, was at the mercy of Japanese troops, who were brutalized by their own officers, undersupplied with food, often badly trained, demoralized by a succession of bloody battles, and indoctrinated with views of Japanese superiority and contempt for the Chinese. What occurred, then, was terrible enough without having to reach for parallels with the Holocaust.

Since the 1980s, when China began to open up to the capitalist world, including Japan, a new form of Chinese nationalism began to replace Maoist dogma. The government promoted the idea that only the firm leadership of the Communist Party could wipe out the shame of two centuries of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers, and ensure that the Chinese would never suffer this fate again. From then on, martyrology dominated so-called patriotic education. Museums sprang up on the Opium Wars. And in 1985, in Nanking, the Memorial for Compatriots Killed in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression was erected. It is something between a museum and patriotic shrine. Adorning the entrance are the words, in English and Chinese: “Victims, 300,000.”

* * *

When I saw that City of Life and Death was dedicated to “the memory of the 300,000 victims of the Nanking Massacre,” I was expecting another standard Chinese patriotic film. There have been movies on the massacre before, some better, some worse. The worst I have seen was a Hong Kong production, entitled Black Sun, made in 1995 by T.F. Mou, who used his previous experience as a director of soft porn and kung fu to turn the historical subject into bloody schlock.

But I was wrong about City of Life and Death. Lu Chuan’s film is highly unusual in several ways. Apart from the dedication and a few scenes of Chinese screaming “Long live China!” before being machine-gunned into the Yangtse River, there is nothing especially patriotic or polemical about the movie. On the contrary, it is almost too easy on the Japanese. The real story of Nanking was far worse than what is shown in this film. A particularly refreshing departure from the usual depiction of squat, buck-teeth-baring, thick-necked, bloodthirsty Japanese villains is the lack of any stereotyping. On the whole, the Japanese soldiers are shown as ordinary young men, rather more handsome on average than they might have been in real life, thrown into extraordinary circumstances. And the main Japanese character, Sergeant Kadokawa (Hideo Nakaizumi), is a bewildered, naive figure whose conscience is so shocked by what he sees that he ends up shooting his brains out.

However, the development of individual characters is not the movie’s strong point. Lu is better at conveying group behavior. Shot in black and white, the film is made up of a series of sometimes surprisingly poetic vignettes of man’s inhumanity to man. The first scene of collective violence does not even involve any Japanese. We are shown how Chinese military officers fight their way out of the city, by trampling and pushing the lower ranks out of the way. This, too, was worse in reality; Chinese who were trying to flee the city were shot in the back by other Chinese.

The vignettes that follow are historically accurate. POWs and men suspected of being Chinese soldiers in civilian clothes were marched by Japanese soldiers to execution sites and gunned down en masse. Women were gang-raped in front of their families; streets were filled with rotting corpses; Japanese soldiers pulled carts full of loot; children were casually murdered. John Rabe, who managed to use his Nazi credentials to save quite a number of Chinese, may be depicted as a more hapless figure than he actually was. In the movie, he spends much of his time apologizing to the Chinese for not being able to help them. There is one scene of Minnie Vautrin (the “Anne Frank of China”) trying to save women from being dragged away from their families.6

The reenactment of the atrocities, even though in a somewhat muted form, is not what makes this film original, however. More interesting is the way Lu, who served for two years in the People’s Liberation Army, dramatizes the behavior of young men who can switch from moments of humanity, even tenderness, to savagery in a matter of seconds. He makes nonsense of the cultural theories about the Japanese being uniquely and naturally brutal because of ancient warrior codes or whatnot. Instead, he shows how terrifying ordinary young men can be when they exercise their power over people who have none. Anyone who has encountered large groups of soccer supporters, whether they be British, Dutch, German, or Argentinian, recognizes the phenomenon. One minute, they will be singing along, happily enough, and the next minute, sparked by anything at all, they erupt into mob violence, and once that happens brutality can escalate fast. The sight of first blood invites more. It is as if the helplessness of the victims only provokes greater aggression.

In City of Life and Death, the Japanese soldiers, all but two of whom are acted by Chinese, look like Japanese men of their generation: innocently horsing around, singing popular songs, clowning in country dances. And then, those same boys (most are little more than that) turn into savage beasts, pumped up with predatory violence. This cannot be explained by a particular culture or history. After all, in previous wars, such as the Russo-Japanese War in 1904–1905, Japanese soldiers were renowned for their discipline. Unfortunately, men from all nations are capable of extreme viciousness, once the animal inside is unleashed.

Lu is not insensitive to cultural behavior, however. To claim that we can all be beasts underneath the skin of civilized behavior is not to say that all cultures are the same. Cultural expression, whether in art, religion, manners, or ceremony, is often a way of channeling and taming energy that is potentially dangerous. Shinto, literally the Way of the Gods, was officially promoted in wartime Japan as the main manifestation of Japanese spiritual culture. What had existed for centuries as a nature cult, praying to the gods for good crops, fertility, and good weather, was turned into a militant form of chauvinism. One of the vignettes in City of Life and Death shows the Japanese soldiers dancing, banging drums, and chanting in a Shinto ceremony to celebrate the fall of Nanking. Too subtle to blame Shinto, even militant Shinto, for Japanese brutality in 1937, Lu illustrates instead the tenuous borderline between ritualized violence and the real thing. The scene also shows the danger of putting young men, locked in the cocoon of their own culture, in an alien environment, where they can easily come to feel that rules of civilized behavior no longer need to apply.

* * *

City of Life and Death is not an analytical film, however. It is stronger on atmosphere and feeling. When the Japanese Sergeant Kadokawa has his first sexual experience with a Japanese prostitute, Yuriko (Yuko Miyamoto), he thinks he is in love with her, and gives her extra rations as a New Year’s gift. She sniffs the sack containing a bottle of sake, and thinks of home. What could have been mawkish is entirely convincing, even moving: two people adrift in a place filled with horror. Kadokawa is still one of the aggressors, complicit in mass murder. But he is also capable of great gentleness.

Lu takes other risks in this film, apart from his refusal to depict Japanese simply as villains. In most patriotic Chinese films, especially ones made in the People’s Republic of China, a traitor is a traitor, and a hero a hero, and there can be no possible confusion between the two. However, the main Chinese character in the film, Mr. Tang (Fan Wei), is an example precisely of such a confusion. He is John Rabe’s assistant, speaks some broken Japanese, and does what he can to protect people in the safety zone. A good man, in other words. But he is not just responsible for helping the refugees; Tang is also a husband, and father of a small daughter. Tang thinks he can protect his family by making a deal with the Japanese, informing them that there are Chinese soldiers hiding among civilians. In exchange, the Japanese agree to protect his family from any harm. A traitor? A family man? Both? As it happens, the Japanese still murder Tang’s little daughter, and Tang ends up sacrificing his own life for that of another Chinese. A hero, after all? Such ambiguities are rare in Chinese films.

There are just one or two false notes in the movie. The last scene, for example, descends into sentimentality. After Kadokawa shoots himself because he can no longer stand the awfulness of which he is a part, two Chinese survivors, a man and a boy, walk away from the city toward the woods. Kadokawa, as though to redeem himself for his role in the massacre, had allowed them to escape. They stick flowers in their hair, like happy fauns, and go off laughing with the sheer joy of being alive. I’m not convinced that a story of mass murder and rape should end with this sudden lurch into uplift. Given that Lu has afforded us a glimpse of the darkest side of human nature, which cannot just be foisted onto the Japanese, I don’t think we really deserve it.


  1. The reason for the disparity of views on the number of victims is that many killings took place outside the city limits, and that deaths in battle and deaths by execution are not always distinguished.
  2. Penguin.
  3. City of Life and Death Weeps for the Rape of Nanking,” The Village Voice, May 11, 2011.
  4. Published in English as The Nanjing Massacre (M.E. Sharpe, 1999).
  5. See, for instance, Manohla Dargis’s review in The New York Times, “A Tale of Nanjing Atrocities That Spares No Brutal Detail,” May 10, 2011.
  6. For an excellent documentary film of the role of the foreigners, see Nanking (2007), directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman.
Topics: 
Ian Buruma was educated in Holland and Japan, where he studied history, Chinese literature, and Japanese cinema. In the 1970s in Tokyo, he acted in Kara Juro’s Jokyo Gekijo and participated in...
Reviewed in This Article

City of Life and Death
a film directed by Lu Chuan
(first released in China in 2009).

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This article was first published in the October 13, 2011 issue of the New York Review of Books.

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The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever

RODERICK MACFARQUHAR

When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had few inhibitions about studying...

China: From Famine to Oslo

PERRY LINK

1.Each year around the “sensitive” anniversary of the Beijing massacre of June 4, 1989, Ding Zilin, a seventy-four-year-old retired professor of philosophy, is accompanied by a group of plainclothes police whenever she leaves her apartment to go buy vegetables, or to do...

How Reds Smashed Reds

JONATHAN MIRSKY

July and August 1966, the first months of the ten-year Cultural Revolution, were the summer of what Andrew Walder, a sociologist at Stanford, calls “The Maoist Shrug.” Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s wife, told high school Red Guards, “We do not advocate beating people, but...

The Question of Pearl Buck

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

The announcement by the Swedish Academy in November 1938 that Pearl Buck had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature was met with sarcasm and even derision by many writers and critics. They were not impressed that this was the third choice by the academy of an American writer...

The Party: Impenetrable, All Powerful

IAN JOHNSON

In the next few weeks, an event will take place in Beijing on a par with anything dreamed up by a conspiracy theorist. A group of roughly three hundred men and women will meet at an undisclosed time and location to set policies for a sixth of humanity. Most China watchers will...

The Message from the Glaciers

ORVILLE SCHELL

It was not so long ago that the parts of the globe covered permanently with ice and snow, the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greater Himalayas (“the abode of the snows” in Sanskrit), were viewed as distant, frigid climes of little consequence. Only the most intrepid adventurers were...

The Triumph of Madame Chiang

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

Charlie Soong, born in 1866, was a new kind of figure in Chinese history, an independent-minded youngster with an openness to the world who came to Boston from Hainan Island at the age of twelve to work in a store. At fourteen he stowed away on a Coast Guard cutter, was baptized...

Specters of a Chinese Master

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

1.Luo Ping, who lived from 1733 to 1799, was perfectly placed by time and circumstance to view the shifts in fortune that were so prominent in China at that period. He grew up in Yangzhou, a prosperous city on the Grand Canal, just north of the Yangzi River, which linked the...

The Mystery of Zhou Enlai

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

Through the ups and downs of the unpredictable Chinese Revolution, Zhou Enlai’s reputation has seemed to stand untarnished. The reasons for this are in part old-fashioned ones: in a world of violent change, not noted for its finesse, Zhou Enlai stood out...

The Passions of Joseph Needham

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

It is now a little over four hundred years since a scattering of Westerners first began to try to learn the Chinese language. Across that long span, the number of scholars studying Chinese has grown, but their responses to the challenges of Chinese script have been generally...

China: Humiliation & the Olympics

ORVILLE SCHELL

The IncidentOn a snowy winter day in 1991, Lu Gang, a slightly built Chinese scholar who had recently received his Ph.D. in plasma physics, walked into a seminar room at the University of Iowa’s Van Allen Hall, raised a snub-nose .38-caliber Taurus pistol, and killed Professor...

Casting a Lifeline

FRANCINE PROSE

Sixty pages or so into Ma Jian’s novel Beijing Coma, the hero, Dai Wei, is troubled by the memory of a harrowing anatomy lecture that he attended as a university student. Taught by “a celebrated cardiovascular specialist,” the class observed the dissection of the fresh...

Mission to Mao

RODERICK MACFARQUHAR

“This was the week that changed the world” was Richard Nixon’s summing up at the end of his trip to China in February 1972.1 The hyperbole was justified, for this visit to China by an American president was a turning point in the cold war. Hitherto, the Soviet Union and...

China’s Great Terror

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

Long before August 1966, when immense chanting crowds of young Chinese Red Guards began to mass before Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square, alerting those in the wider world to the onset of the Cultural Revolution, senior figures in the Chinese leadership began to seek their own...

‘June Fourth’ Seventeen Years Later: How I Kept a...

PU ZHIQIANG

The weekend of June 3, 2006, was the seventeenth anniversary of the Beijing massacre and also the first time I ever received a summons. It happened, as the police put it, “according to law.” Twice within twenty-four hours Deputy Chief Sun Di of Department 1 of the Beijing...

Liu Binyan (1925-2005)

PERRY LINK

Liu Binyan, the distinguished Chinese journalist and writer who died of cancer on December 5, 2005, in exile in New Jersey, at the age of eighty, was an inveterate defender of the poor and the oppressed, a man with a powerful analytic mind. But the trait that most determined his...

A Little Leap Forward

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

The Communist dynasty is collapsing in China, and in retrospect one of the first signs was a Chinese-language computer virus that began spreading when I was a reporter in Beijing in the early 1990s. The virus would pop up on your screen and ask a question about the hard-line...

AsiaWorld

IAN BURUMA

1.To stand somewhere in the center of an East Asian metropolis, Seoul, say, or Guangzhou, is to face an odd cultural conundrum. Little of what you see, apart from the writing on billboards, can be described as traditionally Asian. There are the faux-traditional façades—...

Found Horizon

IAN BURUMA

1.Traveling recently by bus from Shigatse to Lhasa, squeezed in between a heavily made-up bar hostess from Sichuan who was vomiting her breakfast out the window and a minor Tibetan official in a shiny brown suit who asked me about Manchester United football club before noisily...

East Is West

IAN BURUMA

Chang-rae Lee has an extraordinary talent for describing violence. Here is his account of the gang rape and murder of a Korean sex slave (“comfort woman”) in a Japanese army camp during World War II:I ran up the north path by the latrines, toward the clearing, as it was known...

Divine Killer

IAN BURUMA

“If there was anything Mao wouldn’t want to see, it was tears. Mao said on one occasion, ‘I can’t bear to see poor people cry. When I see their tears, I can’t hold back my own.’ “Another thing which upset Mao was bloodshed.” —From Mao Zedong: Man, Not God by...

China in Cyberspace

IAN BURUMA

1.It is not widely known that the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan are now at war. The battles are not being fought on land, however, or at sea, or even, strictly speaking, in the air; they take place in cyberspace, where nobody so far has ever died. The soldiers in this...

The Jiang Zemin Mystery

ORVILLE SCHELL

1.Since the Chinese Communist Party leaders will not allow themselves to be criticized in the press or on television, critics have had to find other means to express their political grievances. Historically speaking, one of the most telling ways to make a protest known has been...

Sex and Democracy in Taiwan

IAN BURUMA

Fairly or not, sex scandals in politics have acquired a peculiarly Anglo-Saxon ring. The French boast of taking a more sophisticated view of the private lives of public men—that is to say, those lives are shielded from public scrutiny. Germans smack their lips when their...

Selling Out Hong Kong

IAN BURUMA

1.And so it finally came to pass, at midnight, June 30, 1997, in the brand-new Hong Kong convention center, resembling, local people say, a giant cockroach: the red flag of the People’s Republic of China, snapping in the breeze of wind machines, went up, and the Union Jack came...

Holding Out in Hong Kong

IAN BURUMA

1.The Master said: “If seeking wealth were a decent pursuit, I too would seek it, even if I had to work as a janitor. As it is, I’d rather follow my inclinations.”—Confucius: Analects1Flicking through the April issue of the Hong Kong Tatler, a glossy high life magazine...

China: The Defining Moment

JONATHAN MIRSKY

The evolution of the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949 has been tumultuous and bloody, and marked by the suffering of millions. It has been anything but peaceful. Yet it is precisely the prospect of “peaceful evolution,” which in Peking has the special...

The Beginning of the End

IAN BURUMA

Failed rebellions are often like failed marriages: former partners and their friends blame the other side for what went wrong; old tensions are magnified; the past is rewritten; feuding camps are formed. This pretty much sums up the situation among the survivors of the Beijing...

In China’s Gulag

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

Near the end of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn includes a chapter he calls “The Muses in Gulag.” Most of the chapter describes the absurdity and uselessness of the Communist Party’s Cultural and Educational Section, but he also briefly reflects on the relationship...

Unmasking the Monster

JONATHAN MIRSKY

In 755 the Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu wrote about the corruptions of court life:In the central halls there are fair goddesses; An air of perfume moves with each charming figure. They clothe their guests with warm furs of sable, Entertain them with the finest music and pipe and...

History on the Wing

JOHN K. FAIRBANK

Golden Inches is a charming memoir of an American couple who built up the YMCA in Chengtu and Chungking. Their careers on America’s farthest Western cultural frontier in Szechwan province give us a sense of the day-to-day texture of Chinese-American relations during the golden...

From the Ming to Deng Xiaoping

JOHN K. FAIRBANK

When I began teaching Chinese history at Harvard in 1936 my first students turned out to be the brightest I would ever have—Theodore White as an undergraduate and Mary Clabaugh as a Ph.D. candidate. Mary Clabaugh was a Vassar graduate from Tuscaloosa who came to study...

The Last Days of Hong Kong

IAN BURUMA

1.“Everything you need to know about a new life abroad…. It’s all in the pages of The Emigrant.” —Advertisement for a new Hong Kong periodical, 1989May 1983: It was exactly seven months after Mrs. Thatcher stumbled and fell on the steps of the Great Hall of the People...

Keeping the Faith

FANG LIZHI

On June 4, the day after the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on the citizens of Beijing, the distinguished Chinese astrophysicist and dissident intellectual, Fang Lizhi, reluctantly sought refuge in the American embassy in Beijing with his physicist wife, Li Shuxian. They...

Stories from the Ice Age

JONATHAN MIRSKY

Since the Tiananmen Square killings it has become fashionable within the Chinese leadership to refer to dissident intellectuals as “scum.” That was Mao’s view, too. In 1942, the chairman, his armies besieged by both Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese army, took time off for...

Why China’s Rulers Fear Democracy

JOHN K. FAIRBANK

To try to understand is not to condone or forgive. Quite the contrary. In this bicentennial year when a euphoria for democratic rights seemed to be sweeping the world, why was it stopped in Tiananmen Square? Why do China’s rulers attack their students like enemies when in our...

The End of the Chinese Revolution

RODERICK MACFARQUHAR

When Deng Xiaoping suppressed the Beijing Spring last month, he thought he was putting down a new Cultural Revolution. Pirated notes from a Party meeting in late April quoted him as telling his colleagues:This is not an ordinary student movement. It is turmoil…. What they are...

The Price China Has Paid: An Interview with Liu Binyan

NATHAN GARDELS

Liu Binyan is a sixty-two-year-old writer and journalist who is regarded as the preeminent intellectual advocating reform in China today. During the mid-1950s and again throughout the post-Mao period, he has strongly criticized Communist party officials for abusing their power...

Passing the Baton in Beijing

RODERICK MACFARQUHAR

Succession has become an omnipresent problem not only in China but throughout Asia. Long-lasting regimes under aging rulers are entering their twilight zone in North Korea, Burma, and Indonesia, and face a period of weakness and uncertainty, for the moment...

Our Mission in China

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

This is the bicentennial year for contacts between the United States and China, since it was in 1784 that the merchant ship Empress of China sailed to Canton from New York. It was an auspicious beginning, at least for the American backers of the voyage; the trip netted them 30...

China: How Much Dissent?

JONATHAN D. SPENCE

In the year 278 BC an aristocrat and poet named Qu Yuan took his own life by throwing himself into the waters of the Milo River. Qu Yuan had once been the powerful adviser to the ruler of the Chu kingdom, specializing in legal affairs and diplomacy, but the monarch was tricked...

Rules of the Game

JOHN GITTINGS

On September 18, 1931, a very small bomb caused a very minor explosion on the South Manchurian Railway just north of Mukden, a railway controlled by the Japanese and crucial to their economic domination of Manchuria. The explosion was denounced as the work of Chinese saboteurs....

Bringing Up the Red Guards

JOHN GITTINGS

Revolutionaries are Monkey Kings, their golden rods are powerful, their supernatural powers far-reaching and their magic omnipotent, for they possess Mao Tsetung’s great invincible thought. We wield our golden rods, display our supernatural powers and use our magic to turn the...

Peanuts and the Good Soldier

JOHN GITTINGS

In 1927, the province of Shantung was under the control of the warlord Chang Tsung-chang, a ferocious ex-coolie with a taste for white mercenaries and white women. His forces included a Russian brigade with four armored trains; he himself went to war with a...

A Mao for All Seasons

MARTIN BERNAL

A psychologist and an expert on the Far East, Mr. Lifton believes that the most fruitful way to look at Mao Tse-tung and the Cultural Revolution is to combine the investigation of psychological motives with historical analysis in what he calls the “...