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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China » User review

Troubling and valuable insights into the New China

  • Jul 2, 2010
There were parts of Out of Mao's Shadow that reminded me of those ambiguous shadow pictures that look like one thing one minute, and then, when you look again, become something else. In Out of Mao's Shadow Phillip Pan covers a lot of ground, the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government's rewriting and coverup of history, SARS, the AIDS scandal and most of all, the rise of the New China.

The rise of the New China is on our minds lately for the obvious reason that the "sleeping dragon" is awakening very fast. Many of us Americans, who grew up hearing about the Soviet threat and seeing Mao's throng's waving their little Red Books, have been greatly relieved to see the Chinese people focusing on building their economy and better lives for themselves. When you consider the starvation, violence and horror that Mao brought--there certainly is no question that things are better now.

But Phillip Pan's insights into the way that many Chinese millionaires have become rich is troubling indeed. Like those who look at a shadow picture of a woman--only to realize that its a vase, Pan explains that the assumption that business people in China want freedom is flawed as many of them depend on dictatorship, one party rule and repression of freedom to grow their businesses. In one particularly chilling chapter Pan describes one of the wealthiest women in China and how her fortune was built, to start, on selling antique furniture stored in a old warehouse. The furniture was loot, stolen from people imprisoned and murdered during the Cultural Revolution. This lady, now famous and respected shows Pan pictures of herself with Colon Powell. The horrible truth of the source of her wealth, is something she does her best to conceal. The author's revelation that every time he met her she insisted on giving him money and expensive gifts (which is revealed to Pan's employer, the Washington Post and donated to charity) gives the reader a pretty good idea of how things usually work in China.

There are many, many good things about the New China, and anyone who reads again about the Cultural Revolution has to see how much better things are. But Phillip Pan, in writing this book, has insisted that when we look at China, we see it as it is, not as we would like it to be--and that the idea that China will slowly grow more free--should not be taken for granted.

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Hello everyone!      Like a lot of you, I just love to read. And, as you will see from my reviews I read some of an awful lot of things. I particularly enjoy American history, biographies, … more
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“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 thatOut of Mao’s Shadowachieves “the immediacy of first-rate reportage and the emotional depth of field of a novel” (New York Times).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10: 1416537066
ISBN-13: 978-1416537069
Author: Philip P. Pan
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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