The Man Who Stayed Behind

The Man Who Stayed Behind

Book Pages: 496 Illustrations: 16 b&w photographs Published: April 2001

Author(s): Sidney Rittenberg, Amanda Bennett

Contributor: Mike Wallace

Asian Studies > East Asia, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, History > Asian History

The Man Who Stayed Behind is the remarkable account of Sidney Rittenberg, an American who was sent to China by the U.S. military in the 1940s. A student activist and labor organizer who was fluent in Chinese, Rittenberg became caught up in the turbulence that engulfed China and remained there until the late 1970s. Even with access to China’s highest leaders as an American communist, however, he was twice imprisoned for a total of sixteen years.
Both a memoir and a documentary history of the Chinese revolution from 1949 through the Cultural Revolution, The Man Who Stayed Behind provides a human perspective on China’s efforts to build a new society. Critical of both his own mistakes and those of the Communist leadership, Rittenberg nevertheless gives an even-handed account of a country that is now free of internal war for the first time in a hundred years.


“This is personal history at its best, a gripping page-turner that is at once the highly individual story of Sidney Rittenberg’s 35 years in China and a broad, insightful account of modern Chinese history. . . . [R]eaders of The Man Who Stayed Behind can only feel grateful that he has chosen to share his fascinating life story and hard-earned wisdom.” — Sheila Melvin , South China Morning Post

The Man Who Stayed Behind hooked me from start to finish. These are rare, tragic, sometimes startling insights into Mao’s China at its self-destructive worst. Whether you sympathize with Sidney Rittenberg or not (and there will be times when you have doubts) he was there as history was made and unmade, and became part of its scar tissue. His prison portrait of Madame Mao as the shrieking harridan of the Red Terror will stay with me a long time. And his own personal story is an amazing tale in its own right.” — Sterling Seagrave, author of The Soong Dynasty

“[The Man Who Stayed Behind] reads like a riveting historical novel. But there’s no fiction here . . . it’s Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the Long March, solitary confinement, despair, romance, and redemption. Sidney Rittenberg’s story is a classic.” — Mike Wallace, CBS-TV 60 Minutes

“A gripping story about an idealistic young American who freely cast his lot with the Chinese revolution only to be struck down by that revolution at the floodtide of its success. . . . One lives with him through inhuman cruelty and the mindless horror of sixteen years of solitary confinement.” — Leonard Woodcock, First American Ambassador to China

“An extraordinary and revealing account of how someone was swept into the Chinese Communist movement and stayed with it through its many blunders, excesses, and cruelties. . . . A fascinating autobiography—honest, moving, chilling, and quite illuminating.” — Dr. Michel Oksenberg, Former National Security Council Aid on China Policy

“I found The Man Who Stayed Behind hard to put down. No American has ever merged as fully, hopefully—and disastrously—with Communist China as Rittenberg did for four decades from the 1940s. The book is lively, poignant, and revealing. Rittenberg offers a window on Beijing politics that anyone seriously interested in China’s recent past and likely future should read.” — Ross Terrill, author of China in Our Time

“Sidney Rittenberg has had one of the most remarkable lives of anyone I have ever met. The story of his life is not only a fascinating and valuable witness to one of the greatest historical upheavals of [the twentieth] century, but is a vivid testimony to the power of good in the midst of evil.” — Billy Graham


Availability: In stock
Price: $31.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sidney Rittenberg is President of Rittenberg Associates, Incorporated—a China consulting firm. He resides on Fox Island, Washington, with his wife, Yulin.

Amanda Bennett is Managing Editor of The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon and former Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal in Atlanta.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Notes on Spelling and Pronunciation


Introduction / Michael Hunt

Key Names

1. The Death of the Wood Fairy

2. The Famine

3. The New Fourth Army

4. In Mao’s Caves

5. High Autumn and Bracing Weather

6. My Long March

7. The Year of Darkness

8. Learning to Live

9. The Brave New World

10. Redder Than Red

11. The Golden Age

12. A Leap in the Dark

13. The Great Hunger

14. The Inner Circle

15. The Good Life

16. Arouse the Masses

17. Smash Everything Old

18. Seize Power

19. Hold Power

20. Power Prevails

21. The Ice House

22. The Dynasty Collapses

23. Coming Home




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