Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out of Mao's Shadow

From an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and one of the leading China correspondents of his generation comes an eloquent and vivid chronicle of the world’s most successful authoritarian state – a nation undergoing a remarkable transformation.  On the eve of the 2008 Summer Olympics, capitalism has brought prosperity and global respect to China but the Communist government continues to resist the demands of its people for political freedom.  At times disturbing, at times uplifting, this groundbreaking book takes us inside the battle for China’s soul and into the lives of individuals struggling to come to terms with the nation’s past – the turmoil and trauma of Mao’s rule – and to take control of its future.

Philip P. Pan, who reported in China for the Post for seven years and speaks fluent Chinese, eluded the police and succeeded in going where few Western journalists have dared.  From the rusting factories in the industrial northeast to a tabloid newsroom in the booming south, from a small-town courtroom to the plush offices of the nation’s wealthiest tycoons, he tells the gripping stories of ordinary men and women fighting for political change.  An elderly surgeon exposes the government’s cover-up of the SARS epidemic.  A filmmaker investigates the execution of a young woman during the Cultural Revolution.  A blind man is jailed for leading a crusade against forced abortions carried out under the one-child policy.  The young people who filled Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989 saw their hopes for a democratic China crushed in a massacre, but Pan reveals that as older, more pragmatic adults, many continue to push for justice in different ways.  They are survivors, whose families endured one of the world’s deadliest famines during the Great Leap Forward, whose idealism was exploited during the madness of the Cultural Revolution, and whose values have been tested by the booming economy and the rush to get rich.

“Many people who care about China tell themselves that democratization is inevitable,” Pan writes, “but I have seen that there is nothing automatic about political change.  It is a difficult, messy, and often heart-breaking process, and it happens—when it happens at all—because of imperfect individuals who fight, take risks, and sacrifice for it.  They can be noble, courageous, selfless, stubborn, vain, naive, calculating and reckless.”

A remarkable achievement of journalism in an authoritarian state, Out of Mao’s Shadow offers a startling new perspective on China and its return to the ranks of world powers, challenging the conventional wisdom that the Chinese people are indifferent to politics and the notion that free markets must always lead to free societies.

Source: Click here

P/s: From Korea to China...

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