Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Salisbury's Report on China: The Revolution & Beyond, Parts 1-3

  • The Leaders of the Revolution Slogans and Policies From Liberalization to Crackdown
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: College to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $349.00
  • Date: Copyright 1989. Released 1989.
  • Descriptors: China - History - 20th century. Revolutions . Communism.
  • Production Information: Live action. Videos: 3. Color. 58, 58, 58 min.
  • Production Company: NHK (Japan)
  • Available from: Films for the Humanities and Sciences PO Box 2053 Princeton, NJ 08543 (800)257-5126
  • Cataloging: ||China - History - 1949-
  • Print Entry #: 1:1907
  • Reviewer: Katherine Pearson Jagoe

    Narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harrison E. Salisbury, this three-part series thoroughly covers the years of Communist government in the People's Republic of China. Stunning video footage of the 4 June 1989 events in Tiananmen Square add an extra element of richness to this fascinating history.

    Part 1: The Leaders of the Revolution leads off with footage of the June 4th scene that Salisbury viewed unexpectedly from the balcony of his strategically located hotel room. He then proceeds to review the history of Communist rule in China, with the intention of placing the June 4th events in historical perspective. The remainder of Part 1 contains a synopsis of the early life of Mao Zedong, the Communist fight to gain power, and the triumph of an established government on 1 October 1949; and an overview of the period of Mao's leadership, evaluating his strengths and weaknesses.

    Part 2: Slogans and Policies gives a more focused view of the "Great Leap Forward" and the development of Mao's paranoia regarding intellectuals. The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s is touched on, detailing Zhou en Lai's ability to remain in Mao's inner circle, and the recognition of Deng Xiaoping's abilities by the government. Mao's continuing distrust of those close to him eventually resulted in the persecution of many of these individuals, including Deng Xiaoping.

    Part 3: From Liberalization to Crackdown concentrates on the life of Deng Xiaoping and his rise as Supreme Leader after Mao. Footage of the trial of the Gang of Four, the ringleaders of the disastrous Cultural Revolution (Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, was among these) is one of the more interesting parts of this series. Zhou en Lai's funeral is also covered with mention that Mao's wife called a halt to the mourning. A comparison is made between the outpouring of mourners for Zhou en Lai and the 1989 mourning over the death of Hu Yaobang, which led up to the government crackdown on 4 June.

    This series is an outstanding overview of the past 40 years of China's history. The information on Deng Xiaoping is both interesting and enlightening, as is the footage of the trial of the Gang of Four. Some of the editorial comments seem weak. The events of the Cultural Revolution are only touched upon, with the emphasis from this period on what was taking place among the leaders. The way in which Deng Xiaoping came to be the Supreme Leader is never fully explained. These flaws are minor, however, in comparison to the overall historical documentation of the series.

    The quality of the programs is outstandingly professional, as would be expected of a Films for the Humanities production. The historical film footage adds dramatic accuracy.

    Since this series is very lengthy (each episode is about one hour long), it should be viewed in separate segments. The mature level of the subject matter makes the series suitable for college students and adult audiences. University collections should definitely acquire this, as should large public libraries.

    Highly recommended as an excellent resource on the 40 years of the history of the People's Republic of China.

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