A Revolution of Shepherds
IN 1961, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Mongolian People's Republic, the Mongols published an extraordinary book. It contains the personal stories of 203 men who in 1921 joined the Partisans of Sukebator, the fiery young cavalryman and machine-gunner turned revolutionary. Those who could write, wrote their own. The stories of others were taken down by dictation or by tape-recorder. They were not dressed up by literary editing, but are as the men told them. They give sometimes almost blinding glimpses of what revolution is. But after forty years men's memories get hazy here and there, and sometimes two eyewitnesses do not agree. These discrepancies were not smoothed out. I commented to several Mongols that I admired this presentation very much: it was history in the raw. Their answers were in almost the same words: "But how else would you do it? Later on, the historians can straighten things out. But in the meantime, these men were there. These are their stories, and they have a right to tell them."