This illuminating work examines the social, cultural, political, and economic dimensions of the Communist takeover of China. Instead of dwelling on elite politics and policy-making processes, "Dilemmas of Victory" seeks to understand how the 1949-1953 period was experienced by various groups, including industrialists, filmmakers, ethnic minorities, educators, rural midwives, philanthropists, stand-up comics, and scientists. A stellar group of authors that includes Frederic Wakeman, Elizabeth Perry, Sherman Cochran, Perry Link, Joseph Esherick, and Chen Jian shows that the Communists sometimes achieved a remarkably smooth takeover, yet at other times appeared shockingly incompetent. Shanghai and Beijing experienced it in ways that differed dramatically from Xinjiang, Tibet, and Dalian. Out of necessity, the new regime often showed restraint and flexibility, courting the influential and educated. Furthermore, many policies of the old Nationalist regime were quietly embraced by the new Communist rulers.
Based on previously unseen archival documents as well as oral histories, these lively, readable essays provide the fullest picture to date of the early years of the People's Republic, which were far more pluralistic, diverse, and hopeful than the Maoist decades that followed.
Jeremy Brown is Assistant Professor of History, Simon Fraser University. Paul G. Pickowicz is Distinguished Professor of History and Chinese Studies at the University of California, San Diego and inaugural holder of the UC San Diego Modern Chinese History Endowed Chair. Elizabeth J. Perry is Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government at Harvard University and Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Perry Link is retired from a career teaching at Princeton University and now is Chancellorial Chair for Teaching Across Disciplines at the University of California, Riverside. He publishes on Chinese language, literature, and cultural history, and also writes and speaks on human rights in China. Sherman Cochran is Hu Shih Professor of Chinese History at Cornell University.