If a Chinese citizen has read one book on the Cultural Revolution, it is likely to be Ji Xianlin's Memories of the Cowshed, a candid account of his year of imprisonment on the campus of Peking University and his later disillusionment with the cult of Mao worship. As the campus spirals into a political frenzy, Ji, a professor, is persecuted by lecturers and students from his own department. His home is raided, his most treasured possessions destroyed, and he endures hours of humiliation at brutal "struggle sessions." He is eventually imprisoned in the "cowshed," a makeshift prison for intellectuals who have been labeled as class enemies. Prominent intellectuals rarely spoke openly about the Cultural Revolution, so when Ji's memoir was published in 1998, it quickly became a bestseller. His eyewitness account of this harrowing experience is full of sharp irony, empathy, and remarkable insights.
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