Red Flower of China
By Zhai Zhenhua
(Soho Press, Paperback, 9781569470091, 245pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
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"The Cultural Revolution had transformed me into a devil," writes Zhai. In 1966, at age 15, she led a Red Guard brigade that tortured Chinese citizens branded counterrevolutionaries. She beat innocent people to death and had others exiled; her squad raided homes and murdered people. Now a professor of engineering in British Columbia, Zhai expresses remorse and guilt rather perfunctorily, and her cool confession is tinged with rationalizations. She blames the flourishing of her "evil, barbaric side" on her blind faith in Chairman Mao. Her fervor gave way to bitter disillusionment when she herself was banished to the countryside in 1969 to do three years of hard labor and be "re-educated" by peasants. This is a grisly account of how political brainwashing can induce converts to commit monstrous acts.