Red Flower of China: An Autobiography


245 pages
ISBN 1-895555-20-5
DDC 951.05'6'092





Reviewed by Lawrence T. Woods

Lawrence T. Woods is an associate professor of international studies at
the University of Northern British Columbia and the author of
Asian-Pacific Diplomacy: Nongovernmental Organizations and International


Zhai Zhenhua is a survivor of China’s “Destroyed Generation.” Her
formative years coincided with the Cultural Revolution. Zhenhua herself
joined the Red Guard and participated in violent, ideologically driven
campaigns. When the ideological tide turned, she was forced to offer
self-criticisms before her classmates: the experience left her feeling
betrayed by Chairman Mao and by the Chinese communist system.

This autobiographical account, which focuses on the years 1966 through
1972, will appeal to students of Chinese culture, history, and politics,
particularly those seeking to understand the activities of the Red Guard
and the domestic implications of the Cultural Revolution. It will also
interest those wishing to explore the linkages between ideology,
ideological fanaticism, and people (especially young women).

A well-presented, disturbing, and powerful memoir, full of lessons for
Canadians about what happens when one plants human seeds in fields of
depersonalized ideology.


Zhenhua, Zhai., “Red Flower of China: An Autobiography,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 26, 2024,