An unusual memoir by a young American woman detained four years in mainland China (she was released in December, 1971) who...

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CAPTIVITY: An Extraordinary Account of Imprisonment and Survival in the People's Republic of China

An unusual memoir by a young American woman detained four years in mainland China (she was released in December, 1971) who was captured while sailing from Hong Kong with a companion who died (it seems of natural causes) shortly after. Miss Harbert, to begin with, is a nervy, hardnosed, introverted existentialist: ""I think people everywhere exist who have it in them to control not what events do in their presence but what they do in the presence of events."" One feels she was never really cowed but propelled by irritation and outrage, that she battled her (one suspects, often bewildered) captors toe-to-toe in a series of small set-to's -- over a point of logic in The Thoughts, the necessity for a green light bulb, privacy, possession of a nail file, etc. Throughout Harbert's long ordeal (polite to frenzied interrogations, a succession of rickety quarters and friendly/ hostile companion-interpreters) she was not mistreated and in some particulars, considering her ""prisoner"" status, well-treated. But in this raw recital the essence of captivity comes through -- frayed nerves and crushing boredom. A very personal account in which the personality of the prisoner is far more tantalizing than the raison of the jailers. Sour and honest as her days were long.

Pub Date: July 25, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1973