On October 1, 1949, a rural-based insurgency demolished the Nationalist government of Chiang-kai Shek and brought the Chinese Communists to national power. How did the Chinese Communists gain their mandate to rule the countryside? In this pathbreaking study, Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr., provides a fresh and strikingly original interpretation of the political and economic origins of the October revolution. Salt of the Earth is based on direct interviews with the village people whose individual and collective protest activities helped shape the nature and course of the Chinese revolution in the deep countryside. Focusing on the Party's relationship with locally esteemed non-Communist leaders, the author shows that the Party's role is best understood in terms of its intimate connections with local collective activism and with existing modes of local protest, both of which were the product of rural people acting on their own grievances, interests, and goals. The author's collection and use of oral histories—from the last remaining eyewitnesses—and written corroborative materials is a remarkable achievement; his new interpretation of why China's rural people supported and joined the Communists in their quest for state power is dramatically different from what has come before. This book will stimulate debates on the genesis of popular mobilization and the growth of insurgency for decades to come. This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press's mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1997.