In 1995 a foreign reporter interviewed me about Mao. She sought me out as someone who had met the man in person and openly admired him over the years. She asked, “What about all the people he killed? What about all those famine deaths? And what about all the suffering and destruction of people in the Cultural Revolution?” With these questions she lined herself up with the current media line on Mao, the line of conventional wisdom, which is to present him as a monster—Mao, the monster. The usually more enlightened BBC reached a new low that week with their Mao centenary program. It made him out to be not only a monster but also a monstrous lecher far gone into orgies with teenage girls. Such a low level of attack! It cheapened the BBC and should have backfired, but you never can tell these days
More than forty years after its initial publication, it is a rare, concrete record of social struggle and transformation, as witnessed by a participant. Fanshen continues to offer profound insight into the lives of peasants and China’s complex social processes. Rediscover this classic volume, which includes a new preface by Fred Magdoff.
On April 3, 1999, a one-day conference, “Understanding China’s Revolution: a Celebration of William Hinton’s Lifework” was held at Columbia University to celebrate his eightieth birthday. At the conclusion of the conference, organized by China Study Group and cosponsored by Monthly Review and Columbia’s East Asian Institute, Hinton gave an impromptu talk on the background to the writing of Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in A Chinese Village. The talk was transcribed and we publish its text here, as revised by Hinton in October 2002
Through a Glass Darkly is William Hinton’s final book. It draws on a lifetime of immersion in contemporary Chinese politics and society, beginning with the seven years he spent in China, working mainly in agriculture and land reform, until 1953. On his return to the United States in that year, Hinton first encountered the distortions and misrepresentations of the Chinese Revolution that he examines in this book.
The Great Reversal is the first critical study of the widely heralded reforms currently transforming China’s economy. From his long experience in Chinese agriculture, Hinton first examines the course of agricultural reform over the past decade, then looks at its consequences in different areas of the countryside and considers its implications for the country as a whole. He raises troubling questions about China’s capitalist future—the growing landlessness, increasing inequality, and above all, the destruction of the nation’s natural resources and the collectively built infrastructure that was the great achievement of the revolution. In so doing he sheds new light on the sources of discontent behind the demonstrations that culminated in the Tiananmen massacre of June 1989.