by Liu Binyan ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 25, 1990
A most chilling account of the life of a Communist dissenter in China. Liu, a journalist for The People's Daily--China's Izvestia--was an intransigent and outspoken critic of the Communist Party in each of its evolutions he lived through, from Mae to Deng. Given the repression and torture that many other intellectuals experienced, it seems a miracle that he suffered only 20 years of ostracism and was expelled only twice from the Party. A passionately patriotic and political figure, he was intent on exposing the corruption and madness of the ruling cliques and seems to have had the freedom to do so--up to a point. Liu claims that the Cultural Revolution was aimed particularly at him, and, given his high-profiled position, it seems only a moderately fantastic assertion, though others in higher political positions suffered more. The desperate fear of being labelled a ""rightist"" and ""bourgeois,"" and the attendant punishments, permeate page after page here, and throughout Liu goes over and over the possible sins of rightism (and righteousness) for which he was censured, always surprised and shocked that he should be misunderstood. Comparing himself with the besieged Hu Yaobang--the liberal Patty leader whose death set off the events at Tiananmen Square--he presents himself as an undaunted spokesman for the oppressed (he's now in exile in the US), and of the masses who have passively endured but not conceded to oppression. Between the lines, one sees a picture of China trying to build a cohesive new society with strict moral values and economic ideals, along lines laid down only in abstract blueprints, enforced by terror, and regulated by an increasingly befuddled and corrupt bureaucracy that repressed but did not eliminate dissent. With little attention to literary style or charm, this guide through the labyrinths of recent Chinese political history often reads like a message from a mad house by one fiercely confident of his own sanity and idealism.
Pub Date: May 25, 1990
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1990
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