New Ghosts, Old Ghosts: Prisons and Labor Reform Camps in China (Socialism and Social Movements)

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9780765600974: New Ghosts, Old Ghosts: Prisons and Labor Reform Camps in China (Socialism and Social Movements)
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Much has been written about the laogai (sometimes likened to the Soviet gulag) in the People's Republic of China. Depending on the source, the prisons are described as nonexistent, enlightened institutions, or hellish places that subject the inmates to degradation and misery. The system is commonly thought of (by admirers and critics alike) as having a measurable impact on the national economy and providing significant resources to the state. Based on research in classified documents and extensive interviews with former prisoners, judicial personnel, and other insiders, and featuring case studies dealing with the three northwestern provinces, this book examines such assertions on the basis of the facts about this underexamined subject in order to arrive at a detailed, objective, and realistic picture of the situation. In the case of each province under study, the authors discuss the history of the provincial prison system and the impact that each has had at the macro, meso, and micro levels.

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From Library Journal:

Chinese prison systems, ancient or contemporary, never fail to fascinate the West. In recent years, especially after the sensational media exposure of Harry Wu's return from an arrest in the People's Republic of China and the publication of his memoir (Troublemaker, LJ 11/1/96), the lao gai (labor reform system) is often portrayed as the Gulag. The authors, however, view the system more dispassionately. Rather than offering general impressions or personal experiences of China's prisons, they concentrate on prisons in three northwest provinces and rely on government documents and interviews with inmates (who, of course, may not have felt free to express their true thoughts) as well as officers. Their case studies attempt to provide a realistic viewpoint and an understanding of the functions and management of the Chinese prison system. Recommended for academic libraries.?Mark Meng, St. John's Univ. Lib., New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review:

New Ghosts, Old Ghosts clears away both the pro-Chinese apologies and the anti-Chinese hysteria ... providing instead the most objective and dispassionate evaluation of the real situation that we are likely to have. -- The New York Times, Richard Bernstein

New Ghosts, Old Ghosts is an amazingly balanced dissection of China's 1,000-plus labor camps. -- The Wall Street Journal, Ian Johnson

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