STRANGER IN CHINA by Colin McCullough


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The author spent a year and a half as China correspondent for the Toronto Globe & Mail during the ebb of the Cultural Revolution when the fullblown cult of Mao persisted, along with xenophobia and rumors of civil war. McCullough's glib style and journalistic cynicism do not negate his acute perceptions -- he records once again the Cultural Revolution's Red-Book waving, indoctrination of children, loss of discipline, and assaults on the British Embassy. He also documents the government's efforts to cool the situation: Red Guards were shipped to the countryside, ancient art was protected from over-earnest demonstrators, new trade relations were pursued. Much of the book is given over to entertaining if petty details of a non-Chinese-speaking foreigner's existence in China, particularly Peking -- the bored and boring circle of diplomats and correspondents trying earnestly to tune in on the common people, detect signs of Sino-Soviet strain, and deal with the bureaucratic pressures on journalists. Though the style is less engaging than that of Humphrey Trevelyan's aristocratic memoir of Anglo-Chinese diplomatic life, Living with the Communists (p. 1250, 1971) this sketch has the merit of reaching somewhat further beyond official circles than Trevelyan did, exhibiting a frank mix of crossness and respect toward China.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1972
Publisher: Morrow