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Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China's Gulag Paperback – April 3, 1995
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In April 1960, Chinese Communist authorities arrested Harry Wu, the son of a well-to-do Shanghai banker. He was cast into a prison camp and, though never formally charged or tried, he spent the next nineteen years in a hellish netherworld of grinding labor, systematic starvation, and torture. Bitter Winds is the powerful story of Harry Wu's imprisonment and survival, of extraordinary acts of courage, and of unforgettable heroism.
From Publishers Weekly
In this eloquent memoir, Wu recalls his 19 years in Chinese labor camps. Though a middle-class college student, he was initially a patriotic Communist, but he soon ran afoul of the thought police. Hoping to flee the country in 1959, he was denounced as an "enemy of the revolution." The book, written with Wakeman, coauthor of To the Storm: The Odyssey of a Revolutionary Chinese Woman , focuses primarily on Wu's first decade as a prisoner struggling against starvation, seeing others succumb and learning a brutal survival ethic from fellow inmates. It is an intimate story of bravery and tragedy, including details about hallucinations, torture and the loss of comrades. The Cultural Revolution led to Wu's transfer to a mine, where he stayed for 10 years. There, he began to carve out a life, marrying a woman who later betrayed him. Six years after his release in 1979, he left for the U.S., where he is now a resident scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. An epilogue briefly describes Wu's continuing heroism: in 1991, he returned to China and surreptitiously filmed labor camps for the TV program 60 Minutes.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Then a couple of years later, he went back to China, with a video camera. That is close to the bravest thing I've ever heard of.
One day I wondered "whatever happened to Harry Wu?". So I found this book, bought it, and read it.
The first thing that strikes me: Harry started as a fairly ordinary guy. He liked to play baseball, he studied geology, and sometimes he talked politics with his classmates. College students all over the world have been doing this for centuries (with different choices of sports and studies, to be sure).
But he wasn't an organizer -- he wasn't going into politics.
I have an American bias. I always assumed the Chinese government arrested Wu for something. Maybe for something that shouldn't be a crime, such as expressing certain political opinions. But, reading this chapter carefully, it looks like the revolutionary students at his college had a quota. They had to find a certain number of rightists (or else -- and what do you think the 'or else' was?) Harry was just someone they denounced in order to meet their quota.
The stories of life and death in prison camps and labor camps are horrifying. Always hungry, always cold. Sometimes the only way to live was to fight other prisoners. And, as Harry says from time to time: for each Harry Wu who got out and got their story to you, there are myriads who died in misery. Who are still there.
Harry Wu is still fighting for them.
Here he documents the conditions in the Chinese gulag system , a giant factory of torture , starvation and death.
Over 60 million Chinese have died since the Communists seized power in China in 1949.
It is a story of the unbelievable brutality and evil of Maoist China , that still continues today. It is also a story of survival , and the unbelievable odds under which Harry Wu survived. He dedicates this powerful expose to the millions who died. And still Red China remains one of the most opressive and brutal totalitarian dictatorships on earth today.
It is a travesty that Red China enjoys such international standing and was even awarded the 2008 Olympic Games
More must be done to expose and oppose China's genocidal tyranny.
After having gone into exile in the 1980's , Harry Wu returned secretly to China in 1991 to film the conditions in the hideous death factory gulags.