Books and Movies Reviews

Blood Red Sunset: A Dysfunctional View of the Cultural Revol

Blood Red Sunset: A Dysfunctional View of the Cultural Revolution
The failings and excesses of the Cultural Revolution and the Communist system it helped perpetuate are many and well known. The horrific statistics of the number of people killed and the resources wasted are straightforward and obvious to all. However, to truly appreciate the dysfunctions of 1960's Communist China, it is often necessary to read the accounts of people who actually lived in and survived it. Ma Bo's autobiography, Blood Run Sunset, is one such account. In his chronicle, we can clearly see several examples of the systemic problems that plagued China. Specifically described are examples of backstabbing and betrayal, corruption, and a lack of effective organization. While, Ma Bo's descriptions are of Chinese operations in the far reaches of Mongolia, the events he describes are emblematic of similar failings that took place through out all of China and other Communist states as well.
The root of many of the other issues and in fact the most damaging element of all was the constant backstabbing and betrayal that took place between the members of Ma Bo's work camp. From the constant eavesdropping of Qi Shuzhen and Liu Fulai to the betrayal of Lei Xia, this behavior and the paranoia it engendered defined Ma Bo's time in Mongolia. Even Liu Yinghong, a woman who Ma Bo thought of as "pure, selfless, and unpretentious", viciously and dishonestly denounced him after his false conviction as a counter-revolutionary. This behavior, dictated by Communist officials who believed that ideological purity was a necessity for their optimal society to function, was a defining element of the Cultural Revolution. However, the events in Blood Red Sunset clearly demonstrate the enormous damage done by this witch-hunt mentality, regardless of how many "counter-revolutionaries" it may have identified. Everyone was forced to watch what…