10 books like June Fourth

By Jeremy Brown,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like June Fourth. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Mao's Last Revolution

By Michael Schoenhals, Roderick Macfarquhar,

Book cover of Mao's Last Revolution

This instant classic was the first to draw deeply on a wide range of previously inaccessible sources about the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976. Highly readable and authoritative, it provides extensive insight into Mao’s actions and those of his subordinates and victims and documents the destructive impact of these conflicts all across China from the initial salvos at Peking University in May 1966 to the immediate aftermath of Mao’s death, which led to the arrest of Mao’s most ardent radical followers, the “Gang of Four”.

Mao's Last Revolution

By Michael Schoenhals, Roderick Macfarquhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mao's Last Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People's Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.

In a masterly book, Roderick…


Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

By Ezra F. Vogel,

Book cover of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Deng Xiaoping is the most important person in contemporary Chinese affairs. It was under his time as the paramount leader of China that modernization started in earnest. He judged policy effectiveness on whether it worked or not. His story is engagingly told by historian Ezra Vogel.

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

By Ezra F. Vogel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

An Economist Best Book of the Year | A Financial Times Book of the Year | A Wall Street Journal Book of the Year | A Washington Post Book of the Year | A Bloomberg News Book of the Year | An Esquire China Book of the Year | A Gates Notes Top Read of the Year

Perhaps no one in the twentieth century had a greater long-term impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar of contemporary East Asian history and culture is better qualified…


Tibet in Agony

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Book cover of Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

For years, the Dalai Lama was courted by Beijing in efforts to incorporate Tibet into the new Chinese Communist State. Drawing on official Chinese documents and memoirs and interviews with Tibetan emigres, Li pulls together a dramatic account of the maneuverings, miscalculations, and events during a critical period that culminated in an uprising in Lhasa that was violently crushed by the People’ Liberation Army, leading to the dramatic flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The account provides fresh new light on a dramatic failure of Chinese policy whose consequences are felt to the present day.

Tibet in Agony

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tibet in Agony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident-the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989-is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened…


Tombstone

By Yang Jisheng, Stacy Mosher (editor),

Book cover of Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

Yang, a recent graduate of an elite Chinese university, was a reporter for the official New China News Agency during the Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1960, and he witnessed first-hand the tragic consequences of misconceived agricultural policies that generated a well-documented 30 million deaths due to starvation, the greatest famine in Chinese history, almost entirely man-made. Yang’s vivid and heart-wrenching first-hand account, well-grounded in long-classified official documents, lays bare the suffering created by a bureaucratic machine that accelerated out of control, forcing peasants to turn over grain to the state even as they starved.

Tombstone

By Yang Jisheng, Stacy Mosher (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tombstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Yang Jisheng's Tombstone is the book that broke the silence on of one of history's most terrible crimes

More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War, yet this story has remained largely untold, until now. Still banned in China, Tombstone draws on the author's privileged access to official and unofficial sources to uncover the full human cost of the tragedy, and create an unprecedented work of historical reckoning.

'A book of great importance' Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans

'The first proper history of China's great famine ... So thorough is his documentation that…


The People's Republic of Amnesia

By Louisa Lim,

Book cover of The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited

June 4, 1989 changed everything in China. When People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians, they killed hundreds of people and destroyed the political legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. A quarter-century later, this event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, Louisa Lim investigates how the Chinese state re-wrote its own history to absolve itself of those killings. By explaining state efforts to erase Tiananmen, and how non-state actors attempt to revive its memory, this book invites us to consider the consequences of suppressing the past.  

The People's Republic of Amnesia

By Louisa Lim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The People's Republic of Amnesia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the best analyses of the impact of Tiananmen throughout China in the years since 1989." -The New York Times Book Review

On June 4, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim offers a much-needed response to the silence surrounding the events of June 4th, charting how deeply they affected China at the time and in the 25 years
since.


Beijing Doll

By Chun Sue,

Book cover of Beijing Doll

Chun Sue is like the literary little sister to Mian Mian and Wei Hui, copying her elder sisters and trying to follow in their footsteps – but stumbling because their heels were still too big for her to wear. In fact, despite its derivative nature, Beijing Doll did quite well, landing Chun on the cover of Time Magazine in 2004 and turning her into a pseudo-celebrity for her punky, tough-girl persona (a stark contrast to Wei’s slinky, sexy image). Western adult readers may roll their eyes at the melodramatic musings of middle-school heartbreak, but read within the context of its confining culture, Beijing Doll is no less an important addition to the annals of Chinese literature.

Beijing Doll

By Chun Sue,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beijing Doll as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Banned in China for its candid exploration of a young girl's sexual awakening yet widely acclaimed as being "the first novel of 'tough youth' in China" (Beijing Today), Beijing Doll cuts a daring path through China's rock-and-roll subculture. This cutting edge novel -- drawn from the diaries the author kept throughout her teenage years -- takes readers to the streets of Beijing where a disaffected generation spurns tradition for lives of self expression, passion, and rock-and-roll. Chun Sue's explicit sensuality, unflinching attitude towards sex, and raw, lyrical style break new ground in contemporary Chinese literature.


Party Members

By Arthur Meursault,

Book cover of Party Members

Here we have the most politically incorrect of novels, an unflinchingly vicious take on China by a Westerner, though Party Members (pun on the second word) does have an acknowledged precursor in fellow Englishman Ralph Townsend’s Ways That Are Dark, an equally unsentimental account of China published in 1933. We follow the faceless bureaucrat protagonist, Yang Wei, as he inventively combines his passions for sex and KFC (China’s comfort food of choice) at one and the same time, and eggs on the state-sanctioned thugs who set his mother’s house on fire to clear it for developers – with her inside. To be fair, China is evolving out of the nasty pre-2008 Olympics era Meursault is documenting and this is after all satire. But the novel is not only very funny, it’s required reading precisely due to its pariah status.

Party Members

By Arthur Meursault,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Party Members as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deep within the heart of China, far from the glamour of Shanghai and Beijing, lies the Chinese every-city of Huaishi. This worker’s paradise of smog and concrete is home to Party Member Yang Wei, a mediocre man in a mediocre job. His content life of bureaucratic monotony is shattered by an encounter with the advanced consumer goods he has long been deprived of. Aided by the cynical and malicious advice of an unlikely mentor, Yang Wei embarks on a journey of greed, corruption, and murder that takes him to the diseased underbelly of Chinese society. 

Will Yang Wei achieve his…


Tao of Sketching

By Qu Lei Lei,

Book cover of Tao of Sketching: The Complete Guide to Chinese Sketching Techniques

I was reviewing Qu Leilei’s Everyone’s life is an Epic at the Ashmolean when a chance encounter changed my life. While writing Qu's profile, I learned about the first contemporary art movement in China - the Stars in Beijing in 1979 - and spent three years interviewing him for the background to Brushstrokes in Time

Leilei’s art is imbued with deep humanity but he is also a fine teacher- hence my recommending The Tao of Sketching. Daoism influenced traditional Chinese art and is a focus for meditation. The empty space is important. If you want to get into that cultural mindset, try Leilei’s books.

Tao of Sketching

By Qu Lei Lei,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tao of Sketching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning artist Qu Lei Lei offers an inspirational view of art from the Chinese perspective. Instead of looking at the sketch as an end in itself, he focuses on the work as personal fulfillment for the artist and as a valued meditation. All the essential techniques are here?from choosing and using materials to mixing the ink to mastering brushstrokes. With the natural world as his subject, Lei Lei pulls out key features?water, trees, landscapes?and focuses on practical ways of depicting their different varieties. A master class covers techniques for capturing pets at play, and for conveying the spirit of all…


Once Upon A Time in the East

By Xiaolu Guo,

Book cover of Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up

The great Chinese British powerhouse writes about her childhood in a poor coastal village in post-Mao’s China where she’s made to live with her grandparents and life is rough and hard, especially for a girl. It’s a very atmospheric tale, that paints a vivid picture of this incredible society. It’s also a Cinderella story, about a suffering child that, thanks to incredible stubbornness and stamina, rises up to become one of the twelve (out of a million or so) applicants that are accepted into the Chinese Film School in Beijing each year. She later moves to England and her descriptions of the west are super fresh and priceless.

Once Upon A Time in the East

By Xiaolu Guo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon A Time in the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.

When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning.

A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity…


Thief of Souls

By Brian Klingborg,

Book cover of Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery

This book really came as a surprise; the kind of surprise where you can’t turn the pages fast enough. For one thing, the setting is completely unique. It’s China, but not Beijing or another location that Western audiences would easily recognize. No, the first Inspector Lu Fei mystery takes us to Raven Valley, outside Harbin, China in a cold and unlovely part of the country.

Lu Fei is the deputy chief of the Public Security Bureau there, where a young woman’s murder upends the cycle of boredom and drinking. Both security and Communist Party officials from Beijing descend on Raven Valley and Lu is soon caught between his old boss in Harbin, who hates his guts, and the upwardly mobile Beijing officials who will take credit for his work if he solves the murder and stick a knife in his ribs if he doesn’t.

Having studied China during my 30-year…

Thief of Souls

By Brian Klingborg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thief of Souls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Brian Klingborg's Thief of Souls, the brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing―but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim.

Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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