Son of the Revolution

by Liang Heng, Judith Shapiro

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Son of the Revolution is the memoir of a Chinese scholar named Liang Heng, and it tells about Heng’s childhood in Communist China. Primarily, it stresses the influence of the Cultural Revolution on his life and on the lives of others who grew up in China during this time. Liang’s family was caught in the middle of the revolution, and in the end, was torn apart by it. Liang’s parents were devoted to the communist leader, Mao Zedong, and they appeared to be well set when the Communists take over the country. As the revolution escalated, however, the Hundred Flowers Campaign caused a tremendous uproar and caused massive divisiveness among the people. The Hundred Flowers Campaign was instigated by Mao as an attempt to force the Communist government to adopt more liberal policies, particularly, to remove restrictions on Chinese intellectuals and grant them freedom of speech. Despite this encouragement, however, there was a massive rift in Communist Party and massive opposition to the idea. Therefore, people who expressed their concerns about the new regime were targeted as enemies of the state.

Liang’s mother is thus forced to leave her home and is exiled to a re-education camp where she is indoctrinated. Liang’s father remains an avid supporter of Mao’s government, but nevertheless he is branded as a counter-revolutionary intellectual and forced out of the city. He moves to the country and becomes a poor farmer, making barely enough to survive, as he is forced to give a large proportion of his wages to the government. As revolution escalates, violence erupts, families are torn apart, and sentiments in the country becomes more and more divided. Liang manages to withstand the tides of change and emerge from the revolution in a better place. However, his book highlights the devasting effect the Cultural Revolution in China had on the country and its people.

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