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Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  61 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Who speaks for China? Is it the old men of the politbureau or an activist like Wei Jingshsheng, who spent eighteen years in prison for writing a democratic manifesto? Is China’s future to be found amid the boisterous sleaze of an electoral campaign in Taiwan or in the maneuvers by which ordinary residents of Beijing quietly resist the authority of the state?

These are among
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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This book covers the intellectual world of Chinese dissidents, ranging from exile in the West to the heart of China itself. One the way, it looks at dissent in repressively paternal Singapore and in the schizophrenic environment that is Hong Kong.

On reflection, I raised my rating of this book. When I first read it, parts of it put me off, but I realize that I was not so much upset with the book, as such, but frustrated and maddened by the some of the dissidents it covers.

One of the themes that
I liked the concept of Buruma's book chasing the Chinese diaspora around the world, before ending up on the Mainland itself. The chaotic world of dissidents and denunciations makes for depressing reading, as are the attempts of his subjects to explain what 'Chineseness' is and what 'we Chinese' meant. It is perhaps good then that he never attempts to be an expert, but instead writes as an outsider following the shattered dreams and lives around the globe. The book is inevitably one-sided, and th ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Hope added it
Good, but hard to follow at times. If you find it hard to keep foreign names straight, this will be a challenge. Still, it's intensely insightful and helps for the university students of this time understand what happened in Beijing in the spring of 1989.
This man writes about contemporary politics in East Asia with a grace and finesse normally only encountered in intellectually aware popstars...
Interesting topics but very hard to really get into the book.
Sep 15, 2007 Jennifer is currently reading it
Recommends it for: anybody
I learned about China, sort of.
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Ian Buruma is a British-Dutch writer and academic, much of whose work focuses on the culture of Asia, particularly that of 20th-century Japan, where he lived and worked for many years.
More about Ian Buruma...
Year Zero: A History of 1945 Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 The China Lover

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