Partisan legacies and anti-imperialist ambitions: The Little Red Book in Italy and Yugoslavia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In early 1971, a university student in Venice, Italy, wrote to the Chinese embassy in Rome expressing interest in receiving an Italian-language copy of the Little Red Book. At more or less the same time, a high-school student in Pakrac, Yugoslavia, wrote to the Chinese embassy in Belgrade expressing interest in receiving a Serbo-Croatian-language copy of the Little Red Book. Each Chinese embassy complied and sent free of charge “exotically packaged” bundles to their respective applicants containing a little red book with a gold star, a plastic covering, and Mao's portrait inside. But with one difference: intent. The university student in Venice was called into the Central Post Office to receive his mail from the Chinese embassy. And once he saw what awaited him, he was perplexed by the fact that the Chinese embassy had sent well over a hundred copies of the Little Red Book. With no way to carry such a quantity in a city with many bridges and no cars, the student corralled his friends to help him carry the books home. And once home, he opened a letter from the People's Republic of China inviting him to distribute the books. The high-school student in Pakrac received no such surprises. Instead, he strolled along the busy provincial streets of his town in northern Yugoslavia to pick up, at the local post office, the single copy of the Little Red Book he had requested. To his delight, he also received a letter, but this one only expressed the guarded compliments of the People's Republic of China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMao's Little Red Book: A Global History
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781107298576, 9781107057227
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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