Art and Politics

Literature chronicling the cultural Revolution is rife with memoirs written by China's best and brightest — the doctors, artists and intellectuals who were sent to the countryside to toil miserably as field hands during Mao Zedong's program to "reeducate" the intelligentsia. Not all who were targets of class warfare were destroyed by it, however. Mao's Last Dancer, the latest biography set in the Cultural Revolution, tells the story of a peasant boy from northern China who was propelled to international stardom by Mao's social engineering.

Written by first-time author Li Cunxin, Dancer is a poor-boy-makes-good memoir populated by...

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