Much of the recent English-language scholarship on the People's Republic of China during the Mao era (1949–76) has attempted to complicate, if not counter outright, the carefully crafted narratives of official history put forth and policed by the Party-state.1 Edited by Sebastian Veg, Popular Memories of the Mao Era might best be considered a methodological meditation on this larger historiographic trend. At primary issue is the proliferation in the early twenty-first century of unofficial sources, circulating across media and in a variety of forms, dating from or retrospectively about the Mao period. These sources constitute both an opportunity and a challenge for historical inquiry. On the one hand, they often offer invaluable information and insights into topics that are underexplored because they are politically sensitive. On the other hand, the volume argues, expressions of “popular memory,” which comprise “a broad set of narratives dealing with the past … that...

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