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Since the end of the Cold War, the operations of secret police informers have come under the media spotlight, and it is now common knowledge that vast internal networks of spies in the Soviet Union and East Germany were directed by the Communist Party. By contrast, very little historical information has been available on the covert operations of the security services in Mao Zedong's China. However, as Michael Schoenhals reveals in this intriguing and sometimes sinister account, public security was a top priority for the founders of the People's Republic, and agents were recruited from all levels of society to provide intelligence and ferret out “counter-revolutionaries.” On the basis of hitherto classified archival records, the book tells the story of a vast surveillance and control apparatus through a detailed examination of the cultivation and recruitment of agents, their training, and their operational activities across a twenty year period from 1949 to 1967. These revelations add an entirely new dimension to modern China's troubled social and political history. Although the story may be safely set in the past, the development of human sources to sustain an oppressive domestic order is nothing if not eerily relevant to students of the present.Read more
- Intriguing and sometimes sinister study by leading social historian Michael Schoenhals explores the workings of Mao's security services
- Newly opened archives reveal that public security was a top priority with agents recruited from all levels of society
- Revelations offer an entirely new dimension on life under Mao which will interest students of China and political scientists and historians in adjacent fields
Reviews & endorsements
"This is an extraordinarily fine work of historical scholarship on a topic about which little had been known."
Hayden Peake, Studies in IntelligenceSee more reviews
"Michael Schoenhals states a number of times in this study of internal covert surveillance in the establishment phase of the People's Republic of China that in many ways describing the history covered in this work is almost impossible. It involves an area in which the main actors deliberately concealed themselves and their actions, and about which archival material is hard to access, and even when available very hard properly to interpret. Despite these massive limitations, it is clear that the book is based on a large amount of Chinese primary source material, ranging from surveillance manuals to internal agent assessments and reports and agency minutes and secret documents. Getting this amount of material together on such a sensitive area is a formidable achievement in itself."
Kerry Brown, International Affairs
"For those with in an interest in security studies, Chinese history, especially the early years of the PRC, or totalitarian systems and their establishment, this book will be of value."
Katherine K. Reist, Journal of Military History
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- Date Published: February 2013
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107017870
- length: 274 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 155 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- contains: 20 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Public security: the institutional framework
2. Agents by category: informers, enablers, and guardians
3. The recruitment base: where utility trumps class
4. Finding the right man for the job: operational profiling
6. Training and tradecraft: behind the covert front
7. Agent running: Beijing rules.
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