Failure of Charisma: The Cultural Revolution in Wuhan

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1995 - History - 345 pages
Mao's failure to control the Cultural Revolution he unleashed is vividly exemplified by the case of Wuhan, a city plagued by factional violence, paralyzed by workers' strikes, and once officially condemned as a nest of 'counter-revolutionary' rebellion. Many studies of this period recount the pivotal 'Wuhan Incident' of 1967, when a bitter factional power struggle spun beyond to provide an in-depth analysis of Beijing's control. But this is the first book to provide an in-depth analysis of micro-politics in Wuhan from 1966 to 1976, and the first to examine the far-reaching theoretical implications of mass behaviour there. Wang Shaoguang fills a critical gap in the academic literature with his original empirical contribution, which is based on never-before-published archival data, personal interviews with more than 85 former political activists (including well-known factional leaders) and correspondence from his years as a Red Guard in Wuhan. This study demonstrates that Mao's charisma failed because his believers behaved rationally, and pursued, wherever possible (and in his name), their own gains and interests.

From inside the book


The Roots of Discontent 1949 to 1966
An Old Game with New Victims June and July 1966
A New Game with New Players August to December 1966

11 other sections not shown

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About the author (1995)

Shaoguang WangAssistant Professor of Political ScienceYale University.

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