RED CHINA BLUES by Jan Wong

RED CHINA BLUES

My Long March From Mao to Now
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A crackerjack journalist's (she's a George Polk Award winner) immensely entertaining and enlightening account of what she learned during several extended sojourns in the People's Republic of China. A second-generation Canadian who enjoyed a sheltered, even privileged, childhood in Montreal, Wong nonetheless developed a youthful crush on Mao Zedong's brand of Communism. She first visited China in 1972 on summer holiday from McGill University. Although the PRC was still convulsed by the so-called Cultural Revolution, the starry-eyed author enrolled in Beijing University and remained in the country for 15 months. Emotionally bloodied but unbowed by quotidian contact with the harsher realities of Maoism, Bright Precious Wong (as she was known to fellow students and party cadres) mastered Chinese and searched for ways to express solidarity with the masses. Leaving the PRC only long enough to earn a degree from McGill, the author returned in the fall of 1974 for a lengthy stay that made her increasingly aware of Chinese Communism's contradictions and evils. Disturbing encounters with dissidents raised her consciousness of the regime's oppressive policies. Although her zeal diminished, Wong soldiered on, eventually acquiring an American spouse (perhaps the only US draft dodger to seek asylum in the PRC) and a correspondent's job with the New York Times. When President Carter pardoned Vietnam War resisters, the author and her husband came back to North America. She returned to China in 1988 as the Beijing bureau chief of The Toronto Globe & Mail. Experiencing something akin to culture shock at the changes wrought by Deng Xioaping's capitalist-road programs, Wong was an eyewitness to the bloody Tiananmen Square confrontation. She ferreted out long-suppressed truths about penal colonies, the use of prisoners as unpaid laborers, and the public execution of criminals. Tellingly detailed recollections of the journeys of an observant and engaged traveler through interesting times. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 17th, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-47679-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996




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