An absorbing history of a refugee crisis that mirrors current events.

LAST BOAT OUT OF SHANGHAI

THE EPIC STORY OF THE CHINESE WHO FLED MAO'S REVOLUTION

Stories of courage and resilience emerge from decades of oppression.

On May 25, 1949, the People’s Liberation Army marched into Shanghai, completing Mao’s victorious takeover of China. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of that revolution, Chinese-American journalist Zia (Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, 2000, etc.), former executive editor of Ms. magazine, vividly chronicles the lives of several individuals caught in the violent “tsunami of revolution” in China’s “biggest, most glamorous, and most notorious city,” the port where throngs of Chinese rushed to escape. In early May 1949, the World War II transport ship General Gordon was the last boat out of Shanghai, culminating an exodus that sent millions of Chinese to seek refuge throughout the world. In a narrative gleaned from more than 100 interviews, Zia focuses on four exiles whose stories represent “the voices, viewpoints, and character of the Shanghai diaspora.” Benny Pan, who grew up in a sheltered enclave and was educated in private schools, had little knowledge of his father’s political and financial machinations as an inspector with the British-controlled Shanghai Municipal Police. Ho Chow’s family were landowning gentry who lived off rent from their tenant farmers. Bing Woo (the author’s mother), given away by her poverty-stricken birth family, was adopted by one woman only to be passed on to another family. Annuo Liu was the daughter of an ardent Nationalist whose politics put the family in dire jeopardy. Zia begins her history in 1937, with the Japanese occupation of China that lasted until the end of World War II. While Benny’s father collaborated with the Japanese and their puppet government, others suffered from martial law, strict censorship, and severe rationing of critical resources. After the war, the arrival of American soldiers and the ousting of Japanese soldiers and civilians augured stability, but a civil war between Nationalists and Communists led to more privations, an atmosphere of suspicion, and virulent repression. With captivating detail, the author reconstructs the tense “panic to flee” that engulfed the nation.

An absorbing history of a refugee crisis that mirrors current events.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-345-52232-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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