My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident

3.43 avg rating
( 7 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781442212220: My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

In 1999, leading dissident Jiang Qisheng was given a four-year sentence for inviting the Chinese people to light candles to honor the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Drawn with indignant intensity from Jiang’s time in prison, his memoirs record chilling observations of the modern “civilized” Beijing jails in which he was held.

While awaiting a farcical trial, he shares a cell crowded with common criminals, among them a murderer who had dismembered his victim with an electric saw. Along with intriguing vignettes of his fellow prisoners, Jiang describes the brutal conditions they all faced: inmates led to execution with necks corded to silence them, savage fights between prisoners, and rare moments of unexpected kindness. He describes the frequent beatings by guards, the use of the electric prod, and a dehumanizing regime aimed at humiliation and the destruction of individual personality.

After he is sentenced, conditions are even worse. Prisoners, used as slave labor, become bitterly exhausted and emaciated, while facing new depths of mental degradation. Throughout, however, Jiang retains his dignity, his detached and perceptive intelligence, and his concern for his fellow sufferers, guards included.

Written in a light and ironic style, Jiang’s stories of prisoners, many of whom come from the most primitive and impoverished layer of Chinese society, are related with vividness, insight, humor, and compassion. Dismayed by their fatalistic docility, the author asks, “Where lies China’s hope? Can democracy ever take root in China?” The answers, surely, lie in the voices of those, like Jiang, who dare to speak out.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Jiang Qisheng was born in 1948. After ten years of hard agricultural labor during the Cultural Revolution, he obtained a master’s degree in aerodynamics, which led to a university teaching post and work toward a PhD. However, for his involvement in the Tiananmen student prodemocracy movement, he was jailed for 18 months. Denied employment on release, he became a freelance writer. In 1999 he was given a longer sentence, which is the subject of this book. With Nobel prizewinner Liu Xiaobo, Jiang was one of the drafters of Charter 08 and remains an outspoken writer on civil liberties and human rights in China.

Review:

What should American readers make of this memoir by a Chinese human rights activist and dissident? Jiang recounts the experience of his four years, beginning in 1999, in a Beijing prison, where he was sent for inviting people to light candles to honor the Tiananmen Square massacre victims. As one might expect, it is a horror story. The misery of death row, fights among prisoners, the use of electric prods, and beatings with fists and clubs are only a few of the travails he endured there. But what is Jiang communicating to his readers in the United States aside from a record of brutality? As he explains what it means to be a dissident in the face of enormous power, readers may be reminded of recent Occupy Wall Street protests and view their relative freedom of expression from a new perspective. VERDICT This book will prove significant to anyone interested in China, its prodemocracy movement, and its criminal justice system, as well as anyone curious about the story Jiang has to tell. (Library Journal)

Jiang Qisheng is a Chinese political dissident. He was first jailed for 18 months because of his involvement in the Tiananmen student prodemocracy movement in 1989. Then in 1999, he was given a four-year sentence for his appeal for open commemoration of the movement at its tenth anniversary. My Life in Prison is a detailed account of his second imprisonment, during which Jiang had to live with criminal offenders such as murderers, robbers, and drug dealers. The description of his life in jail reveals frequent humiliation and beatings of inmates by guards, dreadful living conditions, fights and quarrels between inmates, and exhausting manual work that all inmates had to do. Despite the sufferings in jail, Jiang gained understanding and respect for his pursuit of democracy from other inmates and even from some guards. In addition to his exposure of the brutal prison conditions, Jiang describes his thoughts on various issues such as the development of democracy in China, national and international political affairs, and his arguments with some inmates on different religious and political beliefs. This book provides firsthand information on Chinese dissidents and their pursuit of political reforms. Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

Jailed from 1999 until 2003 for the publication of an essay celebrating and memorializing the 'Souls of the Heroes' of Tiananmen Square on its 10th anniversary, human rights activist Jiang details his grueling incarceration in this engrossing memoir. In brief but vivid chapters, Jiang recounts his time in Beijing's relatively comfortable Detention Center, where he awaited trial, spending his days working out with soda bottles and mastering Chinese chess. His reputation as 'Political Prisoner' earned him the respect and unexpected camaraderie of many fellow inmates, but those friendships would be short-lived. After his trial, Jiang was relocated to spend the remaining two years of his sentence in the deplorable conditions of the Transfer Center, where he endured 'Guinness Record Levels of Suffering.' Of the many daily hardships, Jiang—an intellectual through and through—remarks several times on the lack of reading materials (aside from the numerous 'violent and bloody martial arts novels' provided in every cell at the Detention Center) and his joy at being reunited with his beloved subscription to The World of English. In addition to the gripping account of an individual's triumph in a hostile environment, Jiang's story is rife with relevant commentary on the state of Chinese rule: 'It seems as though in China it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the populace in ignorance . . . not only in society in general, but also in the Detention Center.' (Publishers Weekly)

Activist and writer Jiang was among the leaders of the student pro-democracy movement in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. At the 10-year anniversary of that protest, he was facing a four-year sentence for writing a commemoration of the historic protest. Thus began the ordeal of a pretense of a trial and a brutal imprisonment as a slave laborer, suffering along with the most impoverished and ignored of China’s population. Jiang chronicles the randomness of violence, cruelty, and simple kindness as men from every level of China’s highly stratified society, imprisoned for everything from horrific crimes to simple offenses to political resistance, are thrown together to survive years of suffering and humiliation. They are each tested to the core as they adjust to the prison culture and develop survival tactics that sometimes lend themselves to alliances and at other times to fighting among themselves. Jiang offers stories of interactions with other prisoners, small joys, and great suffering as well as his own inner struggle to maintain an equilibrium that would help him survive astonishing absurdity and cruelty. (Booklist)

Chronological, detailed, and methodical, My Life in Prison: Memoirs of a Chinese Political Dissident, by Jiang Qisheng, fulfills its author’s purpose as historical record. His plea for human rights, particularly free speech, also includes observations on the dehumanizing effects of incarceration for prisoners and guards alike. For his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square student movement, doctoral student Jiang Qisheng had his studies interrupted by an eighteen-month jail sentence, after which he was no longer employable as a teacher. Earlier, during the Cultural Revolution, he had been 'sent down' to work among peasants for ten years. Later, in 1999, for an essay he wrote called 'Light a Million Candles to Commemorate the Souls of the Heroes of June 4th,' he was arrested and eventually sentenced to four years in prison. The official charge was 'incitement of subversion of state power,' but from the beginning Jiang maintained that his arrest and sentence were illegal and amounted to, in his terms, a 'literary inquisition.' Following his arrest on May 18, 1999, Jiang was held in the Beijing Detention Center for nearly two years, awaiting sentencing. . . . My Life in Prison has little to say about the third facility, but the first two are described in detail, the writer making very clear that his fifty-three days in the Transfer Center (along with the first week in Beijing Number Two Prison) were the worst of the entire four years. Born in 1948, Jiang is old enough to remember the Cultural Revolution, and his reflections are deepened by that historical perspective. He contrasts his own persecution with the torture and deaths of martyrs who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. 'Teacher Jiang' received respect from guards and inmates that would have been unthinkable decades earlier, steadfastly refusing to put his hands on top of his head and cast his eyes to the ground and never joining group chants of guilt and repentance. When claiming that those who have been legally deprived of freedom should not be treated to further humiliation and abuse, his concern goes beyond political prisoners to general prison reform. When human dignity is set aside, he observes, violence results. One wonders what he would make of American prison life. (Foreword Reviews)

Now, with a new generation of leaders having recently come to power, Jiang Qisheng’s book is a sober reminder of the limits of political reform in China. (The China Journal)

This is a unique, plainly written, meticulously detailed, convincing, and painful account of principled heroism. Readers will ask themselves what they would do—repeatedly—under the uncivilized and illegal circumstances that still disfigure the People’s Republic of China. (Jonathan Mirsky China Rights Forum)

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

QISHENG, JIANG
Published by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 1442212225

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 42.11
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.60
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1442212225

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 42.46
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository International
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1999, the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, leading dissident Jiang Qisheng was given a four-year sentence for inviting the Chinese people to light candles to honor the victims. Drawn with indignant intensity from Jiang s time in prison, his memoirs offer compelling observations of two of the three modern, civilized Beijing jails in which he was held. Along with intriguing vignettes of his fellow prisoners, Jiang describes both brutally dehumanizing conditions and rare moments of unexpected kindness. Prisoners, used as slave labor, become skinned through malnutrition and exhaustion, while facing new depths of mental degradation. Throughout, however, Jiang retained his dignity, detached and perceptive intelligence, and concern for his fellow sufferers, guards included. Writing in his signature light and ironic style, Jiang s stories of prisoners, who come from the most primitive and impoverished layer of Chinese society, are related with vividness, insight, humor, and compassion. Dismayed by their fatalistic docility, the author asks, Where lies China s hope? Can democracy ever take root in China? The answers, surely, lie in the voices of those, like Jiang, who dare to speak out. Seller Inventory # ANB9781442212220

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 48.06
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1442212225

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 45.31
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.27
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1999, the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, leading dissident Jiang Qisheng was given a four-year sentence for inviting the Chinese people to light candles to honor the victims. Drawn with indignant intensity from Jiang s time in prison, his memoirs offer compelling observations of two of the three modern, civilized Beijing jails in which he was held. Along with intriguing vignettes of his fellow prisoners, Jiang describes both brutally dehumanizing conditions and rare moments of unexpected kindness. Prisoners, used as slave labor, become skinned through malnutrition and exhaustion, while facing new depths of mental degradation. Throughout, however, Jiang retained his dignity, detached and perceptive intelligence, and concern for his fellow sufferers, guards included. Writing in his signature light and ironic style, Jiang s stories of prisoners, who come from the most primitive and impoverished layer of Chinese society, are related with vividness, insight, humor, and compassion. Dismayed by their fatalistic docility, the author asks, Where lies China s hope? Can democracy ever take root in China? The answers, surely, lie in the voices of those, like Jiang, who dare to speak out. Seller Inventory # ANB9781442212220

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 49.88
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by RLPG (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Books2Anywhere
(Fairford, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description RLPG, 2012. HRD. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # CW-9781442212220

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 44.03
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 11.85
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Jiang Qisheng
Published by Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman & Littlefield. Hardback. Condition: New. New copy - Usually dispatched within 2 working days. Seller Inventory # B9781442212220

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 47.06
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 9.14
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Qisheng, Jiang
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Majestic Books
(London, ,, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated. Condition: New. pp. 240. Seller Inventory # 58588294

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 56.44
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.24
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

QISHENG, JIANG
Published by RL (2018)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Print on Demand
Seller:
Herb Tandree Philosophy Books
(Stroud, GLOS, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description RL, 2018. Hardback. Condition: NEW. 9781442212220 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Print on Demand title, produced to the highest standard, and there would be a delay in dispatch of around 10 working days. For all enquiries, please contact Herb Tandree Philosophy Books directly - customer service is our primary goal. Seller Inventory # HTANDREE01052479

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 54.18
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 10.53
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Qisheng, Jiang
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc (2012)
ISBN 10: 1442212225 ISBN 13: 9781442212220
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: Brand New. 223 pages. 9.75x7.00x0.75 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # __1442212225

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 59.89
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 9.88
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book