From factories in the rusting 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, Pan speaks with men and women fighting and sacrificing for change. An elderly surgeon exposes the government's cover-up of the SARS epidemic. A filmmaker investigates the execution of a student in the Cultural Revolution. A blind man is jailed for leading a crusade against forced abortions carried out under the one-child policy.
Out of Mao's Shadow offers a startling perspective on China and its remarkable transformation, challenging conventional wisdom about the political apathy of the Chinese people and the notion that prosperity leads automatically to freedom. Like David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb, this is the moving story of a nation in transition, of a people coming to terms with their past.
©2008 Philip P. Pan; (P)2008 Tantor
"The...intersecting stories he tells here are gritty and real." (Washington Post)
A very interesting and well written book. He artfully displays the challenges facing China of dealing with the abuses of its past while facing the future.
The narrator has an excellent voice, yet he butchers the pronounciation of most Chinese names. It often took me some time to understand what city or province he was talking about. I found this distracting, but non-Chinese speakers will probably never notice.
Citizens do not have the right to vote. There is only one party...one point of view. There is no freedom of the press. Private property is not legally enforced. There is no eminent domain. You are not 'innocent until proven guilt.' The government is allowed to detain you without explanation. Public officials embezzle tax dollars to fund quasi-private companies. There is no taxation with representation. Politicians who speak out against the party are 'erased' from the history books. The Internet is censored. Child labor laws are unenforced. The Chinese peasantry pay higher taxes than urban dwellers. Unions and collective bargaining are illegal, which is a BIG surprise in a supposedly communist country where 'workers of the world' once united! No, this is an authoritarian regime that uses socialist dogma to keep order, but cannibalizes capitalism to fatten up the politcial elite.
Many Americans are becoming curious about China. A new generation is emerging in the United States that never knew the Soviet Union and wonders if China will seriously pose a threat. After reading this book, the greatest long-term threat China poses will be the awful calamity that follows a true government failure, and the reaction of the one billion people who are dependent on it.
The book details the lives of several Chinese citizens who endured specific struggles against their government officials and decrees. Their stories are very personal and wide-ranging in the scope of problems the author identifies.
China's politicians are riding the whirlwind of modern banking, cheap labor, and foriegn investment, but the Chinese people themselves are STILL on the BENCH....what's there to like about that?
mostly nonfiction listener
China books tend to fall into two categories: those books that see China the future (positives) and those books that see China has corrupt and fragile (negatives). Pan, a Pulitizer winning journalist for the Washington Post, is clearly in the latter camp. Rather then falling in love with China, Pan is cleared eyed enough to see the devastation and continuing scars inflected by the authoritarian Communist government, including the starvation of the Great Leap Forward, the repression of the Cultural Revolution, the harshness of the One Child Policy, and the violence of the Tiananmen Square crackdowns. His method is to spend a great deal of time telling the stories of the individuals who have struggled under the authoritarian system, and then to extrapolate to problems in the larger society.
Pan is not hopeful that China will be able to reform its political system, nor does he think economic growth will be rapid or widespread enough to avoid violence. I appreciated the authors willingness to spend so much time with a few emblematic characters, but I found that his main thesis need to be supported with a wider lens and great analysis of economic, social, technical and democratic trends.
Philip Pan provides us with a moving picture of what has happened to China since Mao. Using anecdotes and a continuing narrative related to his work as a documentary film maker, allows the listener to emotionally grasp what China is like. He does this in a way not always offered by other books on the same topic. Therefore, this was particularly satisfying to me.
It is well written, wonderfully ready, and insightful. Come to the material with an open mind and let the author touch your mind and emotions. Accept the book for what it is and you will not be disappointed.
This showed china's shadowy past and present. although this book is very biased towards the superiority of democracy. Even though they are the same and had the same corruption in the US back in the time of standard steel and oil. I advise all to think each page they read and not make the easy conclusion.
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