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An American in Mao’s Cultural Revolution

The Most Revolutionary Act

The Revolutionary: An American in Mao’s Cultural Revolution

Directed by Irv Drasnin, Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers (2012)

Film Review

This documentary concerns the late Sidney Rittenberg, the only US citizen ever to join the Chinese Communist Party during the tenure of Mao Tse Tung

Rittenberg, active in the Southern union and civil rights movement during the early forties, was drafted in 1941 and trained in Mandarin by the US military. He was deployed to China in 1945 and served briefly as a UN observer following the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

In 1946, the Chinese Communist Party invited him to remain in China to serve as a “bridge” between the Chinese revolution and the Western world. Fearful of becoming too dependent on the Soviet Union, Mao was eager to establish good relations with the US.

After Stalin denounced him as a spy in 1949, the Chinese imprisonment him for…

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