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Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China's New Class

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Rise of the Red Engineers explains the tumultuous origins of the class of technocratic officials who rule China today. In a fascinating account, author Joel Andreas chronicles how two mutually hostile groups—the poorly educated peasant revolutionaries who seized power in 1949 and China's old educated elite—coalesced to form a new dominant class. After dispossessing the country's propertied classes, Mao and the Communist Party took radical measures to eliminate class distinctions based on education, aggravating antagonisms between the new political and old cultural elites. Ultimately, however, Mao's attacks on both groups during the Cultural Revolution spurred inter-elite unity, paving the way—after his death—for the consolidation of a new class that combined their political and cultural resources. This story is told through a case study of Tsinghua University, which—as China's premier school of technology—was at the epicenter of these conflicts and became the party's preferred training ground for technocrats, including many of China's current leaders.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Joel Andreas's Rise of the Red Engineers is ambitious in scope and analyzes the "transformations of China's class structure since the 1949 Revolution" with rigor and style. . . . Andreas's work brings fresh perspective to our understanding of class in China, of the machinations of the Cultural Revolution, and of twentieth-century experiments in Communism in comparative perspective"—Denise Y. Ho, China Review International

"The book is impressively researched and documented, and the findings and arguments are clearly and cogently presented . . . Andreas offers in this book a serious and sophisticated analysis of an important social phenomenon in twentieth-century Chinese history that continues to shape the leadership structure of China today."—Hua-yu Li, East Asia"In providing this thought provoking analysis [Andreas] has not only made a contribution to our understanding of China in the second half of the twentieth century but also helps us to think about why the Chinese Communist project, inaugurated with such idealism in 1949, went wrong and therefore what future idealists might need to think about as they embark on their own revolutions."—Peter Wood, Hong Kong Economic Journal

"This is an essential book for specialists seeking to understand the murky issues of class in the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 1949; it is also highly engaging and accessible to non-specialists."—Sigrid Schmalzer, American Historical Review

"Rise of the Red Engineers provides an exciting sociological analysis of Maoist and post-Maoist China . . . The book would work well for graduate courses in political sociology, comparative and historical sociology, and socialism and postsocialism."—Johanna Bockman, American Journal of Sociology

"Joel Andreas has written a very fine analysis of the emergence of China's current ruling group."—Thomas P. Bernstein, Political Science Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804760782
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Series: Contemporary Issues in Asia and Pacific Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Andreas is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in various publications, including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and The China Journal.
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