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Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China [Kindle Edition]

Philip P. Pan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.38
You Save: $5.62 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

From an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and one of the leading China correspondents of his generation comes an eloquent and vivid chronicle of the world's most successful authoritarian state -- a nation undergoing a remarkable transformation.

Philip P. Pan's groundbreaking book takes us inside the dramatic battle for China's soul and into the lives of individuals struggling to come to terms with their nation's past -- the turmoil and trauma of Mao's rule -- and to take control of its future. Capitalism has brought prosperity and global respect to China, but the Communist government continues to resist the demands of its people for political freedom.

Pan, who reported in China for the Post for seven years and speaks fluent Chinese, eluded the police and succeeded in going where few Western journalists have dared.

From the rusting factories in the industrial northeast to a tabloid newsroom in the booming south, from a small-town courtroom to the plush offices of the nation's wealthiest tycoons, he tells the gripping stories of ordinary men and women fighting for political change. An elderly surgeon exposes the government's cover-up of the SARS epidemic. A filmmaker investigates the execution of a young woman during the Cultural Revolution. A blind man is jailed for leading a crusade against forced abortions carried out under the one-child policy.

The young people who filled Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989 saw their hopes for a democratic China crushed in a massacre, but Pan reveals that as older, more pragmatic adults, many continue to push for justice in different ways. They are survivors whose families endured one of the world's deadliest famines during the Great Leap Forward, whose idealism was exploited during the madness of the Cultural Revolution, and whose values have been tested by the booming economy and the rush to get rich.


Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

“What freedom the Chinese people now enjoy has come only because individuals have demanded and fought for it, and because the party has retreated in the face of such pressure,” Pan writes. The dream of a completely free society, however, has not yet accompanied a free marketâ€"despite the growing efforts of everyday men and women fighting the system. Through detailed and illuminating interviews with artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, and peasants, Pan reveals a country filled with local government corruption, human rights violations, and collusion between the Party and the private sector. While Pan’s exposé on China left a few critics feeling hopeless, most took away a more optimistic message about China’s future. In either event, they agreed that Out of Mao’s Shadow achieves “the immediacy of first-rate reportage and the emotional depth of field of a novel” (New York Times).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

How is the world’s most populous and emerging global power managing to counterbalance the freedoms of capitalism—and the Internet age—against the continued restrictions of authoritarianism? For seven years, Pan, former Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post, traveled China and talked to officials, journalists, artists, entrepreneurs, and ordinary citizens to get a portrait of an extraordinary time in that nation’s—and the world’s—history. Pan begins by examining how the Chinese are preserving their most recent history of fighting resistance to authoritarianism, including a young entrepreneur’s account of openly defying the police by attending the funeral of Chinese official Zhao Ziyang, who was sympathetic to the Tiananmen Square protest 15 years earlier. Pan goes on to explore how the Communist Party has evolved since the death of Mao, including recollections of factory workers who have not benefited from the new emphasis on capitalism and tycoons who are thriving. Finally, Pan presents the perspective of Chinese with hopes for a democratic future in China, even as that nation struggles to reconcile its past and future ambitions and its place in the broader world. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Look at Freedom in China June 27, 2008
Format:Hardcover
As an American living in Shanghai, I've been impressed by the freedom that many people seem to enjoy here. Contrary to the Cultural Revolution, "RED COMMUNIST CHINA" image that many Americans have, the people of the middle classes in the huge coastal metropoli of this country live lives little different from those of their peers in the west, at least on the surface. The young people I meet scoff at the Little Red Book and the patriotic posturing of the Communist Party; they tend to be as cynical about politics as Americans, if not moreso. At the same time, however, there is a detectable current of discontent lurking below the surface.

Phillip Pan's "Out of Mao's Shadow" blows the lid off this discontent and reveals the dynamics of law and power in China's contemporary civil society. He shows a country that has left behind totalitarian ideology and control and replaced it with an elaborate system of amoral authoritarian gangsterism. Behind such catchphrases as Deng's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics", Jiang's "Three Represents", and Hu's "Scientific Development Perspective", there's little true substance other than a massive kleptocracy's attempt to get rich quick off of exports and labor exploitation, or so Pan contends. At the same time, however, there is a growing middle class civil society- lawyers, journalists, filmmakers, bloggers, labor organizers, environmental activists, artists, and other troublemakers quietly pushing for change in a rapidly changing and increasingly liberal society.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the weak August 30, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Perhaps the most unforgettable scene in the movie Alien, hands-down the greatest science fiction movie ever made, is the attempt by the fast-disappearing crew to resurrect the decapitated robot, Ash, whom they beg for an answer to their simple question:

Ripley: How do we kill it, Ash? There's gotta be a way of killing it. How, how do we do it?

Ash: You can't... You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? A perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

Lambert: You admire it?

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

This unforgettable episode kept replaying in the back on my mind as I read through Philp Pan's unforgettable new masterpiece, Out of Mao's Shadow. This is a book about heroes, about the brave souls in China who dare to stand up to one of the world's most formidable political machines, the Chinese Communist Party. We know one thing in advance: none of them will win. Some do indeed make a huge difference, and nudge the monster toward reform, usually by raising public awareness. But they cannot beat the party. The party will always win. It is too perfect, too self-protective and self-sustaining to tolerate defeat, and it knows no sense of morality or conscience.

A fluent Chinese speaker and former Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post, Pan has won the confidence of these people and, often at considerable personal risk, takes us into their homes, into their lives to give us an intimate portrayal of what they do and why they do it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars casting light on a shadow. September 18, 2008
Format:Hardcover
A mix of history and political analysis from a region and period in which records are systematically destroyed, and authors like Pan are fighting to preserve the truth.
The book paints a picture of a modern Orwellian state, describing, in detail, the contortionist social policies of a communist party that managed to cling to power long after communism became internationally discredited.
For example: the distortion of language for propaganda, the exploitation of nationalism, the systematic partitioning of farmers and peasants away from the central power structures, and the kidnap and remorseless torture of dissidents; Pan lifts all of these elements from the pages of '1984' and moves them to the non-fiction section with this expose'.
The story is also predictive. Pan casts serious doubt on the hopeful -possibly naive- assumption that capitalism will inevitably democratize China. Pan describes modern life in China as more free than it has ever been, though the story he tells is still draconian by most western standards, and his work gives good reason for the rest of the world to be gravely concerned about the future of world's next superpower.
At the same time, however, a powerful human element is brought to the fore: Pan interviews ordinary and extraordinary citizens and shows how the pain and despair of the last 5 decades, on both the individual and social scale, have led to a culture of citizens disengaged from politics.
Pan provides a scathing indictment of the officials and opportunists who exploit the status quo, but also a tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the few people willing to challenge the system; the painful decisions they make and the prices they pay are both inspiring and heartbreaking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening.
This was a very eye-opening account of many of the social injustices endured by the Chinese peasantry. I had no idea what it would be like to live under a communist regime. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. Spangler
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't particularly excited to read it, but it turned out quite good
Was assigned to read this book for a college course and ended up being reasonably impressed by it. It touches on a lot of topics that don't reach the US media community,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Simon G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read
I have read this book 3 times and each time I learn something more. Very interesting and informative. Easy to read!
Published 11 months ago by S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful Stories from China
At the multitude of going-away parties hosted in Shanghai among the transient expatriate community, one question will inevitably be posed to the person taking leave - "So what will... Read more
Published 12 months ago by OnChina@Tumblr
5.0 out of 5 stars A search for the soul of China.
This well written book delves deeply into the lives of real people, recounting the incredible hardships and atrocities they endured. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Frank Langley
5.0 out of 5 stars insightful book
This book is well researched and provides deep insights about the recent past in China. It also reveals variance in human nature and human behavior. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Y. Li
5.0 out of 5 stars good
good book, I'm looking forward to reading it and learning more about what is going on in this part of the world.
Published on September 4, 2011 by K Win
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for sinophiles!
I have read many books about China and especially "The Great Leap Forward", the Cultural Revolution and other Mao caused events. This book is one of the best.
Published on August 15, 2011 by Lao Bao
5.0 out of 5 stars People who deserve a place in history
Pan carefully documents the efforts of Chinese dissidents, lawyers, journalists, labor organizers, or local peasants as they fight systematic corruption and abuse of power. Read more
Published on May 31, 2011 by Brian Griffith
3.0 out of 5 stars The author got his key point backwards
It is the existence that determines the consciousness, and the economic basis that determines a society's overhead system, not the other way around. Read more
Published on May 30, 2011 by John
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