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534 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 4. "Jinnian quanguo jun zhuan anzhi gongzuo xingshi xiren" (The situation this year ofthe army nationwide turning to arranging work for demobilized veterans is gratifying), Jiefangjun bao, 25 August 1989, p. 1, and "PLA on Training Dual Purpose Personnel," Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report on China, 1987, no. 181:19-20. For more discussion on demobilization and related issues concerning the PLA's involvement in the economy, see Benjamin C. Ostrov, "Integrating Civil and Military Production in China: Program and Policy," in Development in the Asia Pacific: A Public Policy Perspective, ed. Jong S. Jun (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1994), pp. 327-344, at p. 334. Peter J. Seybolt. Throwing the Emperorfrom His Horse: Portrait ofa Village Leader in China, 1923-1995. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996. xxvii, 137 pp. 3 maps, 28 photographs. Hardcover $49.95, isbn 0-81333130 -7. Paperback $18.95, isbn 0-8133-3131-5. The title of this book is taken from a Chinese proverb that applauds courage and moral integrity, and is translated into English as "At the risk of death, dare to throw the emperor from his horse." Used by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution, the proverb also appealed to Wang Fucheng, the village leader whose life history is recounted in this book. As historian Peter J. Seybolt describes him, Wang is an honest, intelligent, well-respected man who "owed little to the past and much to the Communist Party," which he repaid "with loyalty and zeal" (p. 5). Born in 1923, Wang belonged to a generation of mainland Chinese who have lived through the phenomenal changes wrought by the Communist Revolution and its aftermath. In 1954 Wang began his thirty-year service as Communist Party branch secretary, the highest office in Houhua Village, in Neihuang County, northern Henan Province. During die last decade ofhis life Wang became friends with Seybolt, who, struck by Wang's forthright honesty, set out to collect his life story. Seybolt describes this book as a "reconstructed autobiography." It consists ofWang's very frank responses to Seybolt's questioning, recorded during Seybolt's numerous visits to Wang's home between 1987 and 1994, then translated and rearranged into a chronological sequence. Wang Fucheng is not a famous man; indeed, as noted in the preface, his© 1997 by University name does not appear in biographical dictionaries of China. Yet lesser-known ofHawai'i Pressan¿ "ordinary" people—as social scientists and historians have long been aware— are often as worthy of study as "famous" ones. They add texture and life to otherwise two-dimensional, macro, sociological representations of society, and they Reviews 535 raise questions about the connection between individuals and their wider social and historical circumstances. Wang Fucheng's story is no exception. On the one hand his life adds flesh and blood to the framework ofrecent Chinese history. On the other, it raises questions about how various campaigns and policies affected— and were affected by—ordinary lives and people. Seybolt begins the book with a brief oudine ofthe Wang family migration to Neihuang County from Shanxi Province early in the fifteenth century (Ming dynasty ), and a description of the floods, droughts, locusts, earthquakes, toxic chemicals, and poverty that have long plagued this harsh region of China. The subsequent chapters each begin with an introduction in which Seybolt concisely describes each period in political and historical terms and highlights important aspects ofWang's narrative. The chapters are arranged into a chronology that pairs Wang's life with the more familiar events and campaigns in recent Chinese history. We thus move through Wang's recollections ofhis childhood and young adulthood during the pre-Communist era; his early married life during Liberation and Land Reform; his Party membership and role as a village leader beginning during the Cooperative Movement; his continued faith in Mao and the Communist Party throughout the Great Leap Forward, the Four Cleanups, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao period. These chapters tell of Houhua's improving standard ofliving. They also tell ofWang's great talent at resisting directives from above, and looking out for the best interests ofthe village, while still...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 534-536
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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