Brian DeMareAug 30, 2022
Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman
Echoes of Counterrevolution from New China
Stanford University Press 2022
Using rare grassroots archives, Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman: Echoes of Counterrevolution from New China (Stanford UP, 2022) dives deep into four true criminal cases during the political campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1953. The first casefile recounted a story of a Confucian scholar who found himself allied with bandits and secret society members. The second casefile was on an assassination of a Communist cadre by a farmer, who was condemned as a landlord and an evil tyrant by the Party. The third casefile was about how the two runaway landlords avoided prosecution of the Party-state by exploiting relative and religious networks in local community. The fourth casefile was on a hapless merchant who accused of a crime he did not commit. Read collectively, the book shows how the newly-established Party-state brought its power to village society. More importantly, the book persuasively demonstrates that the rural revolution could only be understood within its specific local context. In addition, the book also does a model work in showing the historians’ craft of critically reading, analyzing, and using archival documents.
Yi Ren is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania.