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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing Revision of Labor History, January 5, 2010
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This review is from: Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor (Paperback)
It is hard to summarize contextually rich and theoretically nuanced scholarship into a short book review and I don't want to try it here either. Suffice to say, if you are puzzled with some of the questions like I did, you would find this book very refreshing. Questions like: Why Marxism/Communism turned out so differently in China than it did in Europe? Or why it is said that Marxism is too materialistic to be relevant? Or why Mao, despite claiming being a true Communist, hated the knowledge class (intellectuals, professionals) and its representatives in the Party so much? Or why, despite China being the factory of the world today, there is still no union movement (neither de jure, no de facto) in the country? In the end, the question boils down to the relationship between political economy and the social (non-political) legacy it operates in.

Perry did not claim that she was answering those questions. But her narrative of the pre-1949/Republican Era Shanghai did an outstanding job of recreating the setting, of reconstructing the social dynamics within which the labor movement evolved. One has to be fairly familiar with the city, the period and the surrounding areas to follow the stories. This may limit the influence of the book. But I think that is the choice a reader has to make: whether to learn something from history or to follow a cheap revisionist route to political activism.
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Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor
Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor by Elizabeth J. Perry (Paperback - March 1, 1995)
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