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This bibliography contains a list of reference materials and works related to the history of China. China's central authorities attempted to maintain order during the Cultural Revolution by issuing a series of central directives and by circulating major speeches by national leaders. The available historical materials shed little light on deliberations over foreign policy or on the relationship between domestic and international politics, especially in periods of intense leadership conflict. Research and publications dealing with China's economic reforms of the 1980s is ongoing just as the reforms themselves are ongoing. Work on economic policy and performance during the Cultural Revolution period is also in its infancy. Sources about intellectual life during the Cultural Revolution can be divided into the following categories: Chinese sources published in China, Chinese sources published outside China, sources in English published in China, and sources in English and other languages published outside China.
Volume 15 of The Cambridge History of China is the second of two volumes dealing with the People's Republic of China since its birth in 1949. The harbingers of the Cultural Revolution were analyzed in Volume 14 and Volume 15 traces a course of events still only partially understood by most Chinese. It begins by analysing the development of Mao's thought since the Communist seizure of power, and, in doing so, attempts to understand why he launched the movement. The contributors grapple with the conflict of evidence between what was said favourably about the Cultural Revolution at the time and the often diametrically opposed retrospective accounts. Volume 15, together with Volume 14, provides the most comprehensive and clearest account of how revolutionary China has developed in response to the upheavals initiated by Mao and Teng Hsiao-p'ing.
In the preface to Volume 14, we said that a rounded perspective on the Communist enterprise in China might be possible only after a century. An epilogue appended to the final volume of a history of China covering two thousand years is a hazardous venture. Yet to take our narrative so close to the present and not offer some contemporary reflections seems craven, even if the result will only provide harmless amusement for future historians.
In our introduction to these final two volumes, entitled "The Reunification of China," we pointed out that "a billion or so Europeans in Europe and the Americas live divided into some fifty separate and sovereign states, while more than a billion Chinese live in only one state." We rejected geography and ethnic diversity as sufficient explanations for the failure of Europeans to revive the Roman empire, as compared with the success of the Chinese in restoring theirs. We argued, rather, that the disorder of the Warring States period (403-221 B.C.) led Chinese political philosophers such as Confucius to enshrine peace and order as central ideals, thus transforming unity into an overriding political goal. Once achieved, unity was preserved by the invention of bureaucratic government. The bureaucracy's function was facilitated by the unifying symbol of the emperor and legitimized by a universal ideology of which it was the guardian.