Jeffrey Wasserstrom at Literary Review:
Red Memory is not just an engagingly written book but also, for two reasons, a much-needed one. It is valuable, first, because it helps clear up lingering popular misunderstandings of a major event in Chinese history. The Cultural Revolution and its legacy have generated a rich scholarly literature, which Branigan mines. But many non-specialists still have a vision of it formed by one or two moving memoirs they have read. The problem is that some of the most influential of these make it easy for readers to assume that China’s population is made up of two groups: former Cultural Revolution perpetrators and their descendants and former Cultural Revolution victims and their descendants. In fact, the twists and turns of the event were such that many people were perpetrators at one point and victims at another. Many families had members who moved between these two categories.