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Troublemaker:: One Man's Crusade Against China's Cruelty Hardcover – November 5, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Harry Wu, China's most prominent dissident exile in the West, spent 19 years condemned as a counterrevolutionary in the laogai, his country's equivalent of the Soviet gulag system of forced labor camps. After escaping to California in 1985 he began a tireless campaign to publicize human rights abuses within the Chinese prison system, including the harvesting of organs from prisoners, and profiteering from forced labor supported by World Bank subsidies and U.S. importing of prison-made goods. Through Vecsey, a columnist for the New York Times, Wu recounts his incessant and intrepid troublemaking, including his clandestine trips back into China, on one of which he was caught, charged with spying, and deported after U.S. pressure for his release.

From Publishers Weekly

An important human rights document, Wu's dramatic memoir, written with New York Times reporter Vecsey, chronicles his recent campaign to expose China's slave-labor camp system?six to eight million inmates in 1155 camps rife with beatings, torture, murders and near starvation conditions. He also presents shocking evidence that China is executing prisoners to harvest their organs for transplants, and that China's prison-made goods?everything from shoes to tea to tools?are exported to the U.S. Born in China in 1937, geologist Wu spent 19 years in forced-labor camps (1960-1979) after being officially branded a "troublemaker" for criticizing communist rule. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1985. While he wrote of his hellish camp experience in Bitter Winds, Wu does reflect here on his years in China. Mainly, however, he focuses on the three trips he made to China under an alias between 1991 and 1994, documenting camp conditions for CBS-TV's 60 Minutes and for the BBC, as well as an abortive 1995 trip, on which he was arrested at the border and sentenced to 15 years but expelled under pressure from Washington. Wu here aims to have the Chinese prison camp system?laogai?become as notorious as the Soviet gulag. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (November 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812963741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812963748
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,440,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"For 19 years, I was one of those prisoners, held for vague offenses against my homeland. My captors said they wanted to reform me, but really, what they wanted was to work me until I dropped. I was lost in the camps that are strategically scattered all over China, where millions of prisoners produce good for Chinese industry. The authorities have different names for the different stages of their camps. I am an alumnus of three stages: reform through labor (laogai), reeducation through labor (laojiao), forced-labor placement (jiuye). For my purposes, I call the entire system laogai." Harry Wu
I have lived or traveled to many different countries excluding China. A friend ask me recently to go to China and I found myself strangely disinterested. China IS an interesting place, a place of the Great Wall, of delicious cooking, fine silk, martial arts, of the original pasta and gun powder, a country full of tradition and culture...so, what's the problem here, I asked myself. Then I remembered a book that really GOT to me...."Troublemaker" by Harry Wu.
As strange as it sounds, I don't want to go to a place where with a bald face, capriciously and callously, insanely and puzzlingly, people are mistreated. Sounds vague? Read on.
There are places in the world where atrocities against humans by other humans are still committed. They give it the name "human rights violation" but it should be called, "people being cruel, mean and destructive to other people." Africa comes to mind. And, North Korea too and other places in the world. It isn't just the developing countries. Even in the U.S., things like this happen. You don't think so? How about the Oklahoma city bombing?
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Format: Hardcover
The Chinese have an enormous capacity to absorb and parrot back mistruths, without so much as a blush. I had lunch with one Chinese academic in Beijing not long ago who told me with a straight face that no one died at Tiananmen Square during the 1989 democracy protests. On the face of it, an absurd statement, and yet no less paradoxical than many of the things that the average Chinese says and often times believes. Harry Wu understands this enormous capacity of the Chinese people to adopt a more convenient view of reality, at least for conversational purposes, rather than to face the repression of the Beijing government. After all, Wu is a survivor of 19 years in the Chinese gulag, an unspoken penal system that few Chinese either know about or are willing to acknowledge. For the Westerner who is steeped in the history of the Mao years, China is indeed a puzzle. On the face of it, China resembles very much any other developing capitalist-oriented country. Americans, more than any other people, tend to equate capitalism with democracy. Yet, there are numerous examples of capitalist enterprise economies for which any thoughts of democracy and respect for individual liberties are but a dream. China is simply the latest and biggest example. Bereft of a free press, governed by an undemocratic clique, and endowed with the largest penal system the world has likely ever known, China mystifies us. Harry Wu exposes our myths and misconceptions and argues for Westerners not to brush aside the truths in the pursuit of Asian trade and market share. Many Chinese are antagonized by Wu. China is indeed a better place for the average Chinese than it was during the Mao years. Many Chinese seem to feel that if they just keep quiet, things will slowly continue to get better.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Harry Wu's heroic account of his travels to China to document human rights abuses is an incredible read. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in hearing the truth about China's barbaric policies towards its own citizens. Mr. Wu helps to uncover the socialist mindset held by the Chinese and their leaders which allows them to deny that forced labor exists and that the laogai are actually "reform" camps. I would like to thank Mr. Wu for revealing the truth of what goes on behind the wall of lies that the communists have erected. Throughout the book you will be brought to tears at the inhumanities experienced by the Chinese "workers" and the book brings them vividly to light. It would surprise me if anyone could not understand why after serving over a decade in the camps that Wu would want to return. He makes it clear that he wants noone else to suffer the injustices he has faced. Thank you Mr. Wu. You are truly an American and a hero. I admire you greatly and hope you continue your work.
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Format: Paperback
As a great appreciator of many things Chinese, I am not a big fan of their present state. So much seems to get lost in subtle parsing of the issues on this massive country. I think there has to be some room to just speak simply and perhaps curtly about the matter. This was a very great culture, now they are just rude. I thought of this fact when I saw an excellent interview with this well-spoken author, Harry Wu, on the World Over program, with Raymond Arroyo, on EWTN; just about the only thing I truly have ever found newsworthy on the show. Indeed, for once the premise of the interview jibed with reality. Namely, that a lot has been left out recently about China in the mainstream media. So this interview actually filled a real need. And from the Catholic perspective for once they have a real issue of complaint that many can agree on. This is a country that does not allow any real, true freedom of religion, and forces faith-bodies to accept either national churches, which are a sheer contradiction in terms, or some form of state control. Their entire attitude is outrageous. Because of the enormous population of the country this attitude will have a disastrous effect on the world, and already is. I say as someone who is regularly in Chinese medicine shops buying my Hsia Yao Wan and Yin Chiao, both patent remedies that are important to my well-being. But beyond everything else I think what is potentially most telling is the state of those who are the most lucky in Chinese society. Logically, those who have enough money to travel must be amongst that group. And if our recent trip to China is any indication, even those lucky people, tourists like us, after years of terrible misrule have been forced into a hostile parody of human behavior.Read more ›
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