Son of the Revolution excels in illustrating how pervasively the Leninist party-state can intrude into the daily lives of ordinary citizens, particularly when a carefully orchestrated personality cult is added to the picture. Even the most fundamental Chinese social unit, the family, could often not withstand the intense political pressures leveled against it during the antirightist campaign of 19571958 and the Cultural Revolution. After the harsh and arbitrary label of “anti-Party rightist” was stuck on Liang’s mother, Yan Zhide, the outlook for the entire Liang family came under a cloud: Her husband, Liang Shan, saw his chances for winning a coveted Party membership go down dramatically, while his son and daughters found the prospects for joining youth organizations such as the Young Pioneers and the Communist Youth League similarly bleak. Although most of Yan’s children could not bring themselves to break off contacts once and for all with their mother, they all went along with Liang Shan’s decision in 1960 to divorce her and thereby keep the taint of “rightist” from the family name.
Yet the taunts from classmates about having a rightist mother continued unchanged after the divorce, and by 1966, Liang Shan found that his turn had arrived to become an object of unjust political denunciation. Government authorities sent him away to a reeducation camp for professionals and intellectuals of a supposedly heterodox bent, while scattering his children among various rural areas far from their native Changsha. A happy and...
(The entire section is 633 words.)