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Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in…
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Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China (urspr publ 2004; utgåvan 2005)

av Ian Johnson (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1114193,113 (4)2
Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on China for theWall Street Journal, has found the small pockets of resistance that dot the vast landscape of Chinese society and may become the initial fissures that will someday bring down the seemingly indestructible façade of the Communist Party. InWild Grass, he recounts the stories of three ordinary people who find themselves fighting oppression and government corruption, risking imprisonment and even death. A young architecture student, a bereaved daughter, and a peasant legal clerk are the unlikely heroes of these stories, private citizens cast by unexpected circumstances into surprising roles. As he accompanies them on their journeys through the impenetrable bureaucratic maze of Communist China, vividly depicting village meetings and Beijing police stations, spontaneous protests and secret networks, Johnson reveals the contradiction at the heart of modern China. It is a nation intent on pursuing economic reform, creating an open-market economy, raising living standards, improving education, and giving its citizens more time to travel, to think, and to determine their own lives. But at the same time, it refuses to alter the monopoly of power exercised by the Communist Party, and it willfully—often brutally—suppresses the emerging civil society that exists outside the party. From the humble lives that Johnson shares with us may come the revolution that will change China once and for all. From the Hardcover edition.… (mer)
Medlem:garrettjansen
Titel:Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China
Författare:Ian Johnson (Författare)
Info:Vintage (2005), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:to-read, china, goodreads-import

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Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China av Ian Johnson (2004)

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I saw this one someone's must-read list of book about China and thought that I'd give it a try. Johnson's book contains three different stories about, as the subtitle says, change in modern China. Each of the stories are about different people dealing with different issues, but their stories are often parallel. The story that resounded with me the most was the young man who was trying to save some historic parts of Beijing. As I'd read a book about the city, which discusses the government's desire to get rid of everything old and rebuild, this just more depressing information. But overall the book is a fascinating look at what it's like to live (and die) and fight for change in China. Highly recommended for anyone remotely interested in Chinese culture. ( )
  callmecayce | Jan 4, 2013 |
As a mother who adopted my daughter from China in 2005, I read everything about China I can get my hands on and I have a library of books on China I am collecting and saving for my daughter.

Wild Grass is a must read for anyone who is serious about learning about Contemporary China, Chinese history and the lives and struggles of Chinese people.

It is especially valuable for parents adopting from China. We need a deeper understanding of China than the travel guides and a three-week visit can give us and we need to step beyond stereotypes of China to share China with our children Johnson reveals the realities our children from China could have faced had they stayed and the life struggles our children's biological birth parents and siblings face today. We can empathize and come to a greater understanding of our children's histories and culture and we can help our children understand through this book.

Johnson gives his insightful and perceptive view into Chinese lives that we can't get for ourselves. He allows us to imagine we are Chinese while we walk in the shoes of three different Chinese citizens. He describes life under communist party rule and some of the ways the Party inhibits personal freedoms... just like the one-child policy does...the basic freedoms many of us take for granted in the United States. Lucky for us, Johnson is an expert on China as well as a gifted writer and he weaves these stories like a mystery making them fun to read, fascinating and as quirky as China can be.

I hope this is only the first of Johnson's many books on China. There are simply not enough books with this caliber of writing to inform us about China. We are fortunate he is in China and continues to write. ( )
  K892 | Dec 17, 2009 |
From The Washington Post:

In Wild Grass, Ian Johnson, the Wall Street Journal correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Falun Gong, expands on various aspects of grassroots rebellion in China, offering a gripping tale of a few very ordinary people and their extraordinary courage in fighting for their rights against the Communist Party leviathan.

In three decades of Deng Xiaoping-led economic reform, the party has relinquished control over many aspects of people's personal lives and has opened up spaces for individual freedom unimaginable under Mao. One can steer clear of politics and pursue the Dengist motto "to get rich is glorious." But as Johnson shows, beneath the surface of growing prosperity and loosening control, common people are waging a struggle to claim the greater freedom, clean government and rule of law that the party has promised but never delivers. The daily occurrence of such battles is a measure of the progress achieved since the dark days of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. But the fate suffered by the heroes Johnson portrays in this book also points to the long road ahead.

The book is divided into three stories of unintentional heroes. First there is Ma Wenlin, a former Red Guard and a small town schoolteacher who taught himself law in order to become a government-sanctioned legal worker. Implored by local peasants to challenge various illegal taxes and levies imposed by local officials, "Teacher Ma" took up their cause. His class-action suit seeking relief was perfectly legal, but the local court refused to accept it. When he took his case to the highest authority in Beijing, Ma was beaten so severely by police that he lost 13 teeth -- and then was sentenced to five years in prison for disrupting traffic and other crimes.

The second chapter tells the story of the demolition of old Beijing and the dispossession of 23,000 residents in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, and of the tragic efforts of a few courageous individuals trying to protect history and architectural treasures from the bulldozers. Johnson first takes the reader through the charming old quarters of the capital marked for destruction after the expulsion of their legal occupants with pitiful compensation. Then he recounts how a bright architecture student meticulously documented the real estate deals and exposed official corruption involving an estimated $1 billion, but failed to move officialdom and finally left for America.

The third and the most poignant account involves the rise of the Falun Gong and how one member, a grandmother named Chen Zixiu, got caught up in its fervor of healthy exercise and spiritual living. Like other Chinese discouraged by the rampant materialism and corruption of modern China, she sought solace in the movement's teachings of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. Bewildered by the government's "evil cult" pronouncement, Chen set out for Beijing to correct her leaders' wrong impression. Arrested, fined and sent back home with a warning not to associate further with the movement, Chen stuck to her principles. Within six months she was found dead in a local prison, with smashed teeth and battered legs. The authorities refused to state the cause of her death. In her battle to obtain a death certificate, Chen's apolitical daughter ended up in jail herself -- with a far better understanding of her country and the cause her mother died for.

Johnson's cloak-and-dagger quest to talk to the victims and his taut, perceptive writing make Wild Grass read in parts like a John Grisham legal thriller.

Reviewed by Nayan Chanda ( )
  philiposlo | Dec 17, 2009 |
http://pixxiefishbooks.blogspot.com/2...

Here's an excellent example of how a well-respected journalist should write a book based on his columns and expertise in a particular area.

Ian Johnson is a roving correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and lived in Beijing for seven years. In his book, Wild Grass, he tells the stories of three people in China, three stories of people who tried in little ways to resist the corruption and oppression of the Communist Party. The first is a paralegal who is jailed for having helped peasants mount a legal battle against illegal taxes. Second is an architect fighting to save Beijing's historic buildings, which are being destroyed at an alarming rate. The last is a daughter who has been jailed and running into difficulties with authorities because she tried to find out answers about her mother's death in prison (where she was jailed as a Falun Gong practitioner).

I know shamefully little about China and its politics, and understand even less. I was depressed for at least two days straight after finishing this book. That being said, it was an excellent read and I strongly encourage anyone with any interest in the outside world (esp politics) to read it. Johnson knows his subject, he knows how to make a story interesting, and he knows how to make things resonate on a personal level. There were a few 'of course Communism is bad and of course it is failing' moments, but overall, he does a good job of exposing the Chinese government's current weaknesses in policy and strategy without devolving too far into the land of democracy-and-market-freedom-is-great. It is well-written, and the endnotes put Thomas Friedman to shame.*

* Not that that is very hard to do. ( )
1 rösta pixxiefish | Mar 17, 2009 |
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Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on China for theWall Street Journal, has found the small pockets of resistance that dot the vast landscape of Chinese society and may become the initial fissures that will someday bring down the seemingly indestructible façade of the Communist Party. InWild Grass, he recounts the stories of three ordinary people who find themselves fighting oppression and government corruption, risking imprisonment and even death. A young architecture student, a bereaved daughter, and a peasant legal clerk are the unlikely heroes of these stories, private citizens cast by unexpected circumstances into surprising roles. As he accompanies them on their journeys through the impenetrable bureaucratic maze of Communist China, vividly depicting village meetings and Beijing police stations, spontaneous protests and secret networks, Johnson reveals the contradiction at the heart of modern China. It is a nation intent on pursuing economic reform, creating an open-market economy, raising living standards, improving education, and giving its citizens more time to travel, to think, and to determine their own lives. But at the same time, it refuses to alter the monopoly of power exercised by the Communist Party, and it willfully—often brutally—suppresses the emerging civil society that exists outside the party. From the humble lives that Johnson shares with us may come the revolution that will change China once and for all. From the Hardcover edition.

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