The Man Who Stayed Behind
Sidney Rittenberg / Amanda Bennett / Duke University Press Books / 2001-3-13
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"The Man Who Stayed Behind" is the remarkable story of Sidney Rittenberg, an American student activist and labour organiser who joined the military, became fluent in Chinese, was sent to China by the U.S. military in the 1940s, became caught up in the turbulence that engulfed that country, and remained there until the late 1970s. Here he tells how he argued dogma with Mao Zedong, mused philosophy with Zhou Enlai, and danced with Mao's wife, Jiang Qing. But he also gives a harrowing account of his struggle over madness and despair in prison during six years in solitary confinement on trumped-up spy charges. A decade later he was sent back to be confined alongside other political prisoners who fell afoul of the dominant faction during the Cultural Revolution. There is also the touching love story of Rittenberg's Chinese wife, Yulin, who pledged to wait for ten years for the man she loved. Both a memoir and a documentary history of the Chinese revolution from 1949 through the Cultural Revolution, "The Man Who Stayed Behind" provides a human perspective on China's efforts to build a new society. Critical of both his own mistakes and those of the Communist leadership, Rittenberg offers both a compelling personal story and a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of some of the most profound political and moral issues of the twentieth century.

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