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Bittere kou: 19 jaar in de Chinese goelag

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In 1960 werd de 23-jarige student Harry Wu gearresteerd door de Chinese autoriteiten. Zonder te zijn veroordeeld, bracht hij de daaropvolgende 19 jaar van zijn leven door in strafkampen. Hij werd onderworpen aan zware dwangarbeid, uithongering en martelingen, maar hield hardnekkig vast aan de wil te overleven.
Wu's aangrijpende beschrijvingen geven een uniek gedetailleerd b
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published 1994 by Bodoni
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There's something appealing to me about the bleak and austere. I suppose it is my basically Stoic-Buddhist mindset and its emphasis on daily acknowledgement of life's fleetingness—memento mori. I've been a keen reader of Holocaust histories and memoirs for some time: Primo Levi of course but also Robert Jay Lifton's The Nazi Doctors and Christopher R. Browning's Ordinary Men, which is about the lethal Einsaatsgruppen. In time I moved on to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the Russian Gulag. Now I'm in ...more
Horace Derwent
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i was planning to type a lot for a review to this book, but i suddenly felt indigestive, plus constipated

well, i concluded the one as this:


with the signature of the author!


What the fuck, I've been living for several decades, this is the first time I've seen such a "handsome" book!!
Michael Connolly
Harry Wu (Chinese name: Wu Hongda, 吴 弘 达) is perhaps best known for his assertion that the Chinese government harvests organs for transplant from its prisoners. This book is about the years Harry spent as a political prisoner in China's huge system of forced labor camps. They are called Láodòng Gǎizào (劳动改造), Lao Gai, short for, which means Reform through Labor. Harry was born in 1937 in Shanghai. He was educated by Jesuits, who gave him the Western name, Harry. In Communist eyes, he had a bad c ...more
Jacob Marsh
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very interesting, it taught me about the hardship that people went through for such little counterrevolutionary crimes. I found the punishments in this book horrific, the amount of labour Harry Wu had to go through for just sharing his opinion was astounding. Harry Wu explains everything in such detail, this helped me to so clearly imagine everything that went on at the labour camp. Through this book Harry Wu explains the hardships they go through such as nearly starving and su ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfecto para entender un poco mejor la política en los últimos 70 años de China. Es un testigo muy subjetivo, pues es una biografía al fin y al cabo, pero ahonda muchísimo en los campos de trabajo y la experiencia personal del autor. En algunos momentos es terrorífico.
Frederick Glaysher
Bitter Winds. A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag. Harry Wu.[return][return]Bitter Winds, Indeed…., April 20, 2000[return][return]Returning in 1994 from China as a Fulbright Scholar, I could not shake China off. It has become part of my consciousness forever. After writing an essay on classical and modern Chinese literature, with Confucius, Tu Fu, Lu Xun, Lu Wenfu, and other classical and modern writers fresh in my mind, I reread the writings of Fang Lizhi and continued to struggle to understa ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p87 "suddenly the traditional practice of footbinding came to mind, We have switched to headbinding, I thought. It's no longer the fashion of bind a woman's feet, but they bind a person's thoughts instead. That way the mind can't move freely. That way ideas all take on the same size and shape, and thinking becomes impossible. That's why they arrested me. That's why they want to change me, that's why they force me to reform."

p. 115 "In the year and a half since my arrest, I had never seen myself
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
290 pages. Donated 2010 May.

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.
Ken Harwood
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing non-fiction account of a man's struggle to survive almost two decades in China's torturous prison system under Chairman Mao. You don't have to be any sort of expert on China to fully appreciate the determination and moral compromises made by Henry Wu. Well written and edited, the story pulled me all the way through in just four sittings.
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bitter Winds by Harry Wu

The author of this memoir was interred in Chinese re-education labor camps from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s. Although the prose is unremarkable, the story is arresting. It is amazing that a society could heal, even prosper after such a divisive, violent fear-filled period that lasted for several decades.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harry Wu spent 19 years of his life inside the Chinese prisons. He had no trial, no support, but he still survived. Now, in America, he is fighting to change things for others. He is an inspiration. Because of the topic, it wasn't an easy book to read but one that I'm glad I did.
Tom Oman
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the better prison memoirs and provides insight into the ugly side of the Chinese communist state when it was still dictated by it's fanatical revolutionary dogma. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in Chinese history.
Jim Muckian
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up the book randomly semi-randomly at Barnes & Noble one day and reading this eventually triggered my desire to learn more about history, the world I live in and social justice. This book is probably most responsible for much of the reading that I've done since.
I bought this book after hearing the author speak at a lecture.
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unforgettable eighteen-year journey with Chinese intellectual Harry Wu through prisons during Mao's reign. Visual, heart-rendering, and triumphant.
Kevin Movius
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and intriguing. He tells of life as a political prisoner in China without overwhelming bitterness. This had to be very difficult to write.
A very well written and informative book of life in the penal labor colony. This sheds light on a time that was harrowing.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorites.
Mike Davis
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

“Suddenly my mind became animated, and I had what seemed almost a revelation. Human life has no value here, I thought bitterly. It has no more importance than a cigarette ash flicked in the wind. But if a person’s life has no value, then the society that shapes that life has no value either. If the people mean no more than dust, then the society is worthless and does not deserve to continue. If the society should not continue, then I should oppose it.”

Wu says at one point, reflecting on his time
Liz Neale
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the memoir of Harry Wu who at the age of 23 and a Senior at Beijing's Geology Institute was arrested by the Chinese and then spent the next 19 yrs. as a political prisoner. A very graphic account of his life as a Chinese prisoner.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Wu is an immensely courageous person.
John Lucy
This is a good read about the living conditions during the Communist Revolution in China. It will, of course, be hard for a lot of people to read, so you need to know ahead of time that you won't be reading a fun book. That much should be obvious, though.

If you're going to read one memoir about gulags or prison camps or the Holocaust, I'd recommend one about the Holocaust and then just read a basic history of the other stuff, but this could be a fine replacement.
Although this is an interesting insight into China's gulag written by a man who experienced it first hand the book is not well written. Its clear that Harry Wu must have been emotionally damaged by his experiences (who wouldn't have been) bu the story is told in a rather flat and unemotional way. However, this is an important book that reminds us of the dreadful suffering of the Chinese people under Mao.
Cecelia Geller
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really well done. Engaging, horrific, terrifying, and sad all at the same time. The author's voice is rather dispassionate and very matter of fact, but it doesn't take away from the horrors he endured for 19 years. May he rest in peace.
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad story. I found it somewhat repetitive (as he probably did living the circumstances).
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Duríssim testimoni dels "laogai" de la Xina de Mao.
Manuel Barrios
Estremecedor relato de veinte años de internamiento en campos de trabajo del gobierno chino, sin juicio y sin derecho a defensa. Muy bueno
rated it liked it
Mar 09, 2012
Hunsu Park
rated it did not like it
Sep 27, 2017
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Harry Wu was a Chinese human rights activist. Wu spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps, and later became a resident and citizen of the United States. In 1992, he founded the Laogai Research Foundation.

(from Wikipedia)