Monday, April 24, 2006

More new books in the former native speaker's library increasing order of how excited I am to have gotten them:
  • Communication and Global Society, ed. Guo-Ming Chen and William J. Starosta (NY: Peter Lang, 2000)
    Several chapters in this collection look interesting, including Hui-Ching Chang's "Reconfiguring the Global Society: 'Greater China' as Emerging Community" and Starosta and Chen's "Listening Across Diversity in Global Society".

  • The Voice of Asia, by James A. Michener (NY: Random House, 1951)
    As I mentioned earlier, this book was discussed in Christina Klein's Cold War Orientalism. I don't think she mentioned, though, that Michener has a section on Formosa that includes five short chapters: "Indian Summer in Formosa" (a chat with Y.P. Tom, a Chinese C-47 pilot), "The Governor's Mansion" (a chat with Edith Wu, the wife of K. C. Wu, Governor of Formosa), "The Hard Way" (a chat with Liu Ping, a political science student at Taiwan University), "The Tank Commanders" (a chat with "four young fellows, tough, straight and aching for a fight"), and a chapter called "Observations". I'll talk more about this later, but right now I'll just make the observation that Michener's interviewees were all Mainlanders with a burning desire to reconquer the mainland. He evidently didn't talk with any Taiwanese or anyone who had a doubt that the KMT could reconquer the mainland (with the help of the U.S., that is). (A note of thanks, by the way, to my brother and sister-in-law, who sent the book to me, and to Ainsworth Books, who did a great job of packing the book when they sent it to my brother and s-i-l!)

    [Update: The K. C. Wu mentioned above also figured in Fires of the Dragon. Henry Liu interviewed Wu as part of his biography of Chiang Ching-kuo (CCK). Kaplan describes him as someone who "attempted to nurture a genuine democracy on the island" and notes that, "after watching CCK's agents spread a reign of terror across the island, [Wu] finally broke with the Chiang regime and fled to America" in 1954 (192). Ironically, Michener's chapter about Edith Wu ends with her apologizing for some unfinished work on the governor's house. She says, "'We've omitted some of the little finishings. After all, we do not think of this as our permanent home'" (97). But if she expected they would be moving to Savannah, Georgia Evanston, Illinois within four years, she didn't let Michener know.]

  • A Pail of Oysters, by Vern Sneider (NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1953)
    Sneider is more well-known for his book Teahouse of the August Moon, which was made into a movie starring Marlon Brando (as an Okinawan!). As Keelung Hong commented at a talk at Berkeley in 2003,
    Hollywood did not evidence the same interest in A Pail of Oysters as in his other books. Although well-reviewed, it was not a popular success. Even more than Formosa Betrayed, copies of A Pail of Oysters have disappeared from most libraries, probably on instructions issued to the student spies paid by the KMT to monitor Taiwanese on US college campuses.
    (Note: Hong's speech is worth reading in its entirety.) I noticed (without surprise) that the libraries in Taiwan don't have any copies of the English original, only of the Chinese translation that was published in 2003. This book was mentioned by a couple of people I interviewed; they said they had read it before they came to Taiwan. (A website related to Taipei American School's 50th anniversary recalls the book being "passed around the foreign community in a Catcher in the Rye book jacket".) I'm really eager to start reading this one.

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