The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957
Not an easy read, but a compelling overview of the Chinese revolution and the ways in which the Communists seized power. It focuses almost entirely on the Chinese perspective where it might have been interesting to have some foreign perspectives as well; in a similar vein, a more in-depth coverage of the impact of the Korean war might have made the relationship with the outside world more clear. Or perhaps that's partially the point: the revolution cut China off from the world to the extent that there was no relationship of any great degree.
What comes across most strongly is the wasted lives, the ways in which the Communist party was willing to ignore (if not destroy) the talents of its people for reasons of pure ideology -- something the Cambodians were to do, altogether more violently, a few decades later. It's a tribute to the resilience of the Chinese people that the country has managed to survive the experience and re-engage with the world again, but the scars are sure to linger for many years to come.
4/5. Finished 09 December 2013.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)