Synopses & Reviews
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.
Philip P. Pan's groundbreaking book takes us inside the dramatic battle for China's soul and into the lives of individuals struggling to come to terms with their nation's past -- the turmoil and trauma of Mao's rule -- and to take control of its future. Capitalism has brought prosperity and global respect to China, but the Communist government continues to resist the demands of its people for political freedom.
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.
"Ex-Washington Post Beijing bureau chief Pan focuses these 11 profiles on China's lonely dissidents: a filmmaker documents a Mao-era dissident who wrote a prison manifesto in her own blood; a doctor acclaimed for blowing the whistle on the SARS epidemic is arrested for writing about the Tiananmen Square massacre; an editor tests the party's tolerance for muckraking. These narratives show China's social and political tensions playing out through personal enmities, petty bribery and subtle moral compromises. Pan's stirring reportage shows that, even in China, the individual can make a difference at a price. B&w photos. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Phil Pan is one of the finest American correspondents to have worked in China, a penetrating reporter who works from the ground up. This is an extraordinarily important book about China's unfinished politics."-- Steve Coll, author of The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century
"Philip Pan has brought great patience and a rare sensitivity to political reporting in China.This is the story of how power actually works there."-- Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China
"Philip Pan's book is a masterpiece of reportage, revealing the layers of dirt and pain that lurk just beneath the shiny surface of modern China."-- Rob Gifford, National Public Radio correspondent and author of China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
A moving story of a nation in transition, this work 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.
About the Author
Philip P. Pan is a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and the newspaper's former Beijing bureau chief. During his tour in China from 2000 to 2007 he won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in international reporting, the Overseas Press Club's Bob Considine Award for best newspaper interpretation of international affairs, and the Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. He is a graduate of Harvard College and studied Chinese at Peking University. He lives with his wife and son in New York and will begin a new assignment for the Post in Moscow in 2008.
Table of Contents
1. The Public Funeral
2. Searching for Lin Zhao's Soul
3. Blood and Love
4. The CemeteryPart II
NO BETTER THAN THIEVES
5. Arise, Slaves, Arise!
6. The Rich Lady
7. The Party BossPart III
8. The Honest Doctor
9. The Newspaperman
10. The People's Trial
11. Blind Justice
Note on Sources