Mao Cult

Mao Cult : Rhetoric and Ritual in China's Cultural Revolution

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Although many books have explored Mao's posthumous legacy, none has scrutinized the massive worship that was fostered around him during the Cultural Revolution. This book is the first to do so. By analyzing secret archival documents, Daniel Leese traces the history of the cult within the Communist Party and at the grassroots level. The party leadership's original intention was to develop a prominent brand symbol, which would compete with the nationalists' elevation of Chiang Kai-shek. However, they did not anticipate that Mao would use this symbolic power to mobilize Chinese youth to rebel against party bureaucracy itself. The result was anarchy and when the army was called in it relied on mandatory rituals of worship such as daily reading of the Little Red Book to restore order. Such fascinating detail sheds light not only on the personality cult of Mao, but also on hero-worship in other traditions.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 15 b/w illus. 3 maps
  • 1139125990
  • 9781139125994

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. Coming to Terms with 'Cult of the Individual': 1. The secret speech and its impact; 2. The dual nature of commodities; 3. Redefining the cult; Part II. Charismatic Mobilization: 4. Lively study and application; 5. The Little Red Book; 6. Spectacles of worship; Part III. Cult and Compliance: 7. Ambiguous symbols; 8. The language of loyalty; 9. Rituals and commodities; 10. Curbing the cult.
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Review quote

'Leese charts the rise of Mao's cult in clear stages, with an excellent eye for its intricacies.' The Times Literary Supplement
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