20 Most SHOCKING Books About CHINA! Books

20 Most SHOCKING Books About CHINA!

by   > Shocking China Books 148 votes 23 voters 8,413 views 20 items tags f p @

China's history is so vast, its geography so massive, its politics so controversial, and its customs so perplexing, that there was just no way to contain this list to ten books. Even twenty is cutting it short. The country's long, abysmal record of human rights abuses, rampant government corruption, heartless property confiscation and categorical censorship of news, knowledge and information make China fertile grounds for fiction and non-fiction alike. Some of these books are shocking, some scholarly, some simply entertaining, but each reveal a different facet of Chinese culture that, when read all together, should give readers a complete and well-rounded portrait of a nation that just might become the next world superpower.



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    The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
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    It's no secret that the Chinese and Japanese despise each other, or at least their governments do. It is a sibling rivalry that dates back millennia, but came to a head during the early-20th century Sino-Japanese war, whence Japanese soldiers stormed China's then-capital city of Nanjing and proceeded to rape, mutilate and execute upwards of 400,000 innocent Chinese civilians within just 8 weeks. Or so claims Iris Chang (the Japanese military wholly denies this event took place), who was commissioned by the Communist Party to write this fact-finding novel. Chang later committed suicide for mysterious reasons, but her work holds an important place in academia, for, if true, then the Nanking Massacre is the world's worst war-time holocaust in history.
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    Following the commercial success of her best-selling family biography, Wild Swans, Chinese author Jung Chang felt confident enough to tackle the life of China's most hated - and loved - leader: Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong. Chang alleges that Mao was hardly the brilliant military strategist and patriotic rebel that revisionist Chinese propaganda portrays him as, but rather an opportunistic, hypocritical, bumbling and bloodthirsty killer who climbed China's political ladder upon the bodies of tens of millions of innocent civilians. Faulted for lacking proper citations or irref*table evidence, even if just half of this controversial biography is true, then we can be sure that Mao Zedong is in a very warm place right about now.
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    China's single-party government has been controlled by the Communists since the 1949 inception of Mao Zedong's New China. The Party controls every aspect of life in China, from censoring news to suppressing spirituality to limiting 1 child per family. The Communists are also directly responsible for the deaths of at least 100 million innocent lives under 60+ years of disastrous social experiments. But what 1.3 billion citizens fail to understand is that there is absolutely no legal or even constitutional basis for the Communist Party to exist. At any point, the people could rise up and take control of their oppressors. Richard McGregor makes this and other cases in his meticulously researched book, while also revealing how someone might go about joining the Communist Party, how they are promoted in its dog-eat-dog ranks, and how they thrive under its openly-corrupt lifestyle of bribery and murder.
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    In short, the Great Leap Forward was a politically-exacerbated famine in China whereby 45 MILLION innocent civilians were purposefully starved to death, in the course of 4 years, under direct orders from Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, making it one of the largest human slaughters in the history of mankind. In his revealing book, Frank Dikötter explains that Mao, deluded with visions of China becoming a world superpower under his reign, thought that locking up the entire peasant population of China in labor communes to generate steel and wheat around the clock was a good idea. What resulted instead was corrupted metals, falsified harvest reports, and millions of people being worked literally to death. Present-day CPC leaders like to pretend that this incident never occurred, which makes this book even more valuable.
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    What other authors on this list have done with words, photojournalist Tom Carter has done with pictures. Carter's lens unbiasedly reveals to us the ugly, the beautiful and - most profound - the ordinary face of present-day Chinese society. Carter candidly portrays every imaginable facet of life, from farmers to prostitutes to corrupt police to punk rockers to monks, and beyond, effectively proving to us with his photos 2 main points: that Chinese are not all as evil as we might believe, and that China is hardly the economic powerhouse the Communist Party claims it is.
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    Life and Death in Shanghai
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    The best selling - and most heartbreaking - book ever published about the Cultural Revolution. Nien Cheng, a middle-aged mother and employee of a foreign firm in Shanghai, has her house ransacked by the Red Guard, and is then publicly "struggled against" by her neighbors and co-workers. Refusing to sign a false confession that she is a spy, Cheng is locked away in solitary confinement for 6 years while the Communists "investigate" her case. Despite her age and failing health, Cheng refuses to break under pressure. She is finally released and returns home, only to find that her only daughter has been murdered (pushed off a roof) by local Communist leaders in retaliation for Cheng's insubordination.
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    Exiled to a prison labor camp simply for asking to read a book, Kang Zhengguo kept an extensive diary on the atrocities he witnessed first-hand throughout Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. Spanning five decades, Kang subtly yet brilliantly portrays daily life in a totalitarianism society, where anyone and everyone is a "class enemy" and waking up fearing for your freedom - and your life - are commonplace.
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    While Leslie Chang's book focused on the plight of China's exploited factory workers, businessman Paul Midler expounds in his behind-the-scenes memoir on the management-end of Chinese commerce. According to Midler, a fatal combination of short-term greed, rampant corruption, negligent quality control and a sheer lack of enforceable laws is resulting in the world marketplace being flooded with shoddy (and often highly toxic) products.
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    The only book to date to focus specifically on the issue of prostitution in present-day China, Tiantian Zheng argues that brothels around the country are co-owned by government officials and cater directly to local Communist cadres and police officers. Though technically illegal, prostitution in China is in fact an acceptable and necessary evil that, according to Zheng, largely contributes to the national GDP and solves the dual issues of China's dramatically skewed man:woman ratio and the PRC's widening economic disparity.
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    Like most Chinese prisoners, Harry Wu was also tossed into a cell without a trial or even being charged with a specific crime. For 19 years, Wu suffered China's notorious "gulag" slave-labor camp system, enduring torture, starvation, brainwashing and dehumanizing living conditions - all in the name of Socialism. Mao Zedong died in 1976, which was when Harry Wu and other political prisoners of the Cultural Revolution were finally released, but to this day, absolutely nothing has changed in China's prison system: alleged dissidents are locked away for life without trial, and the government continues to supplement its GDP with prison labor.
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    The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use
    Any westerner who has traveled to China lately will tell you that Chinese people just might be the friendliest folks on Earth. But was a time, in the summer of 1900, when "foreign devils" in China were fair game for public beheadings. Diana Preston recounts that bloody Boxer Rebellion, when a small but deadly group of Chinese peasants, tired of the abuses, exploitation and Opium trade committed by European merchants, succeeded in executing tens of thousands of westerners as payback.
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    The case for a "free Tibet" is an extremely touchy subject. Even England, in the 1900s, once tried (and failed) to invade and conquer the Tibetans. But now that Tibet is under Communist China's control, westerners suddenly believe that Tibet must be "liberated." Hypocrisy? Geographical envy? According to Mary Craig, Han Chinese have taken their attempts at Tibetan gentrification too far, with reports of forced sterilization, imprisonment of Buddhist priests, and exploitation of mineral-rich resources. The 2008 riots in Lhasa are proof that the Tibetans are near their breaking point.
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    Salman Rushdie recently predicted that author Liao Yiwu will be the next Chinese artist to "disappear" at the hands of the Communist Party following China's continued crackdown on social dissidence (including any Chinese who has ever published a book without Communist consent). Ironically, Yiwu's novel The Corpse Walker is not about politics or social uprising but simply about the lives of ordinary Chinese people who live in the impoverished margins of society. But in China, telling their story is grounds enough for imprisonment.
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    Loved, hated but utterly unignorable, socialite authoress Wei H*i shocked China, and then the western world, by revealing that *gasp* Chinese girls actual DO enjoy sex. Replete with masturbatory confessions, lesbian encounters and an affair with a married European man, Shanghai Baby set off the short-lived but important "China bad girl" literary genre that proved to western readers that Chinese girls could be sexy too. The Communist Party swiftly banned (and publically burned) Wei's memoir as "spiritual pollution", which only served to further fuel world-wide sales and turn Wei into the alluring face of "New China."
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    Conspiracy theorist Peter W. Navarro substantiates his claims that America's greatest threat is not Islam but China. But instead of attacking us with weapons, the Chinese, claims Navarro, will do so with economic espionage.
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    Is Hong Kong as overrun with criminal gangs as a John Woo movie would have us believe? In fact, Martin Booth makes the case that Chinese gangs ("triads") extend beyond China and across the world in a vast, conspiratorial network of that seeps down as deep as the local laundry lady in San Francisco and the chef at a London Cantonese cuisine restaurant. If what Booth writes is true, than a large percentage of FDI (foreign direct investment) into China is directly funding drugs, gambling, prostitution and digital piracy.
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    Falling leaves
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use
    Chinese girls are worthless, or so it would seem according to Adeline Yen Mah in her shocking memoir about growing up female in China, a culture where mothers will literally kill to have a boy baby. A government-enforced 1-child policy, selective abortions, female infanticide and forced sterilizations are old news in China (floating female fetuses can be found on the banks of the Yangtze to this day), but Mah's painful and traumatizing experiences living with an abusive, Disney-esque evil stepmother makes death seem like a blessing for anyone in China born with a vagina.
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    Did the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 really happen? If you are a Chinese national born before 1980, then your answer is probably "No, it's a lie propagated by the CIA," and if you were born after 1980, then you'll probably blithely ask "What massacre?" But for those westerners privy to proper educations, literature and uncensored news, the Tiananmen Massacre is the definitive incident of China's totalitarian subjugation of its population. For this book, editors Andrew Nathan and Perry Link sorted through reams of confidential documents that revealed the behind-the-scenes debate amongst Communist Party elders leading to their heartless decision to send in People’s Liberation Army troops to gun thousands of college students who were peacefully protesting for pro-democracy reform. The only evidence that remains of the slaughter are the transcripts in this book.
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    If you've never heard of an "AIDS village" before, that's because up until now no book on China's rampant AIDS pandemic has ever been published. Yan Lianke exposes how hundreds of thousands of impoverished Chinese peasants across the country have been infected with HIV by corrupt "blood kingpins" while selling their blood for cash. Instead of prosecuting the bad guys, however, the Communist Party's answer is to contain the infected populous in isolated villages until they are all dead.
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    Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use
    Leslie Chang, an ivy league-educated Chinese-American correspondent for Wall Street Journal, doesn't tell us anything we haven't already read in countless media reports about China's notoriously cruel sweatshop conditions. But the publication of Factory Girls coincidentally coincided with the 2008 accusations against Toyota's human trafficking and the 2009 reports of Apple's "sweatshop suicides," turning Chang into a best-selling author. 3 years later, however, conditions have yet to improve in China's factories, and western consumers still continue without a care to buy electronic gadgets made by Chinese children, rendering Chang's book moot.
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