This is a collection of memoirs by more than fifty Chinese who as young people during the rule of Mao Zedong were rusticated to Hainan Island to clear the jungle for rubber plantations. The stories tell of suffering, hardship and disillusionment, but also of joys and achievements. They provide unique, first-hand insights into this turbulent and crucial period of China's recent history, and are also a testimony to the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
In this book, and for the first time outside China, more than fifty zhiqings tell their own stories of this rustication in Hainan--of the hardship, back-breaking labor and hunger they suffered. They tell of the fervor with which they embraced rustication, but also of the disenchantment that often followed it. The stories are of families torn apart but also of love affairs--of difficulties ingeniously turned to advantage, of self-education, entertainment and artistic endeavor improvised in a cultural wilderness, of humor and jokes in the darkest of times. Above all, they are a moving testimony to the indomitable nature of the human spirit.