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Om No Enemies
During the Nobel ceremony in December 2010, an empty chair was placed in Oslo City Hall to honor Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, whose outspokenness not only earned him the prize but a prison term as well. The award catapulted him to international stardom, shining a penetrating light on his own imprisonment much as he had often shined light on the troubles of his country. These essays provide an up-to-date account of the country's current political and cultural climate, touching on a wide array of issues from the plight of the Chinese farmer to the eroding spirituality of Chinese youth. The essays are tempered by poems, many of which are interwoven throughout the book to provide a much-needed calming effect. Yet Liu Xiaobo's widespread appeal comes not from his poetry, but in his ability to move beyond platitudes and deal in personal stories--e.g., the tale of a local police department's gross mishandling of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl and the protests that developed soon after. Equally powerful is the author's assault on China's closed society, noting that while prostitution is technically illegal in China, thanks to sexual suppression, China is now "number one in the world."...For the world that knew Liu Xiaobo only for his empty chair in Oslo, this much-needed book fills the void. Kirkus Reviews 20111001 Liu, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate currently imprisoned in China for "incitement to subvert state power," registers wide-ranging dissent against the Chinese system in these withering essays and stark poems ("From the grins of corpses/ you've learned/ that it is only death/ that never fails"). Included are manifestos and trial statements denouncing China's dictatorship and calling for human rights, free speech, and democracy. Other pieces criticize the subtler corruptions of a repressive society: the frenzied nationalism of the Beijing Olympics; mass evictions and child slavery; soulless urban youth; the craze for Confucius, whom the author views as a mediocrity whose legacy is a Chinese "slave mentality"; the guilty compromises that prodemocracy leaders--himself included--make to protect themselves. Liu's alienation comes through in his strong, if conflicted, identification with Western ideals, Madisonian politics, and crypto-Catholic religiosity ("we will have passion, miracles and beauty as long as we have the example of Jesus Christ")...Though personal and idiosyncratic at times, Liu's ringing universalist defense of democratic rights and freedoms will resonate with American readers. Publishers Weekly 20111003 It is scarcely credible that the government of a country of 1.4 billion people, one of the largest economies, an emergent great power that is flexing its muscle in all directions, can be so scared of one individual, a writer whose crime is to write about what is happening in China and to disseminate his ideas online. What has [Liu] done that is so bad? Only by reading his work can we find out. Liu's colleagues outside China, Perry Link and Tienchi Martin-Liao, and Liu Xia, are to be thanked for a timely compilation in English that introduces the man and his thoughts from his early years as a literary critic at a Beijing university to his status as the new century's most famous Chinese intellectual, even while he is silenced and incarcerated in his country. It's gutsy for Harvard University Press to publish it, too. Harvard has interests in China, as do many institutions these days. Just to mention Liu Xiaobo's name is taboo for Chinese academics, and even academics outside China can be wary of discussing his work in case they offend officialdom. No Enemies, No Hatred lets us judge for ourselves. It covers a range of recent hot topics in China: the role of sex and political humor in contemporary culture, the Confucius revival, the Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong, Tibet, Obama, Jesus Christ. There's commentary on abuses that attracted grassroots protest: farmers evicted from their land, children forced into slave labor, violent crimes unpunished and covered up. -- Nicholas Jose The Australian 20111005 Though he is an equal in many respects to Vaclav Havel, who contributed a foreword to this volume, Liu is not as literary a figure. Instead, his voice is humble and inelegant, if vigorous. Liu's style reflects his enthusiastic adoption of the Internet, and his strong identification with netizens everywhere. His writing would be simply informative if his subjects were not so urgent, and the clarity of his moral stance not so gem-hard, crystal-clear, and necessary. -- Michael Autrey Booklist 20111215 Like so many who admire Liu Xiaobo--a Chinese author and critic who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work--until I read No Enemies, No Hatred, I was so awed by his nobility as a fighter that I had overlooked his depth as a thinker. If, as Mr. Liu believes, a society's morality is its backbone, the book raises difficult questions about China's future as a superpower. He wonders, for example, what will happen as the Internet ultimately forces China's authoritarian ruling class to confront the ugly truth about its rule. Yet even as he walks the reader through China's dark side, Mr. Liu's optimism shines through--and it's hard not to come away believing, as he does, that history is on his side. -- Jimmy Lai Wall Street Journal 20111219 This is a book everyone should read, as Australian citizens and as human beings, because our national stake in what happens in China has become enormous and our human engagement with it must take the side of those who, like Liu, have the greatest integrity and the most generous vision of their country's future. Whether from a scenario planning or moral point of view, this man's ideas need to be a key part of how we see China...It's a brilliant collection and belongs in the great tradition going back to The Apology of Socrates and The Consolation of Philosophy. -- Paul Monk Sydney Morning Herald 20111223 No Enemies, No Hatred [is] a collection that shows why the Communist Party fears this 56-year-old intellectual- turned-activist and his ideas. In essays on China's rise, Tibet, the impact of materialism and nationalism on morality and sex, the 2008 Olympics, and much more, Liu advances the antithesis to the Party line, writing "free from fear," as co-editor Perry Link puts it in his valuable introduction...Liu's writing is most personal when writing about Tiananmen, but all of the essays display a distinctly humane spirit. He takes evident pride in the changes that ordinary Chinese have brought about despite the Communist Party's tight grip on power...Liu has a keen eye for the cynicism and hypocrisy that warps Chinese society, fed by propaganda extolling wealth, power and national pride. -- Ellen Bork Wall Street Journal 20111230 In No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, the well-translated collection edited by Perry Link, Tienchi Martin-Liao and Liu Xia--Liu's wife--Liu demonstrates a considerable amount of anger while retaining his Gandhian nonviolent spirit. Taken together, his essays offer the best analysis I have read of what's wrong in the People's Republic of China. -- Jonathan Mirsky New York Times Book Review 20120101 Bookshops are now submerged by a tidal wave of new publications attempting to provide information about China, and yet there is (it seems to me) one new book whose reading should be of urgent and essential importance, both for the specialist and for the general reader alike-- the new collection of essays by Liu Xiaobo, judiciously selected, translated, and presented by very competent scholars, whose work greatly benefited from their personal acquaintance with the author. -- Simon Leys New York Review of Books 20120209 No Enemies, No Hatred is the first English-language collection of Liu's poems and essays, including works that the Chinese government cited when convicting him in 2009. Editors' notes included in the book do an excellent job of providing foreign readers with background on some of the topics that Liu writes about...This collection begins with Liu's writings about [the Tiananmen Square] protests, including poignant poems about those who died. Elsewhere, he takes aim at both Chinese and Westerners who believe that the other's culture holds all the answers to humanity's problems...Liu's sentence ends in June 2020. It's unknown how much China's political system will have changed by then. But one thing seems certain: If the injustices that Liu has railed against are still in place, he will not be timid about speaking his mind. -- Mike Revzin Christian Science Monitor 20120103 Although the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu has been unable to publish anything since his most recent detention, which began in late 2008, Link, his co-editors, and a superb group of translators have assembled an impressive sampling of Liu's courageous and insightful writings from the past two decades in this remarkable, highly readable new book. Liu's critical essays and moving prison poetry combine to form a fascinating portrait of China during a period of rapid development and political change. If there was ever any doubt that Liu deserved the Peace Prize, this book erases it...Neither China specialists nor newcomers will soon forget this powerful book. -- Jerome A. Cohen Foreign Affairs 20120101 Like so many who admire Liu Xiaobo<.author>--a Chinese author and critic who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his human rights work--until I read No Enemies, No Hatred, I was so awed by his nobility as a fighter that I had overlooked his depth as a thinker. If, as Liu believes, a society's morality is its backbone, the book raises difficult questions about China's future as a superpower. He wonders, for example, what will happen as the Internet ultimately forces China's authoritarian ruling class to confront the ugly truth about its rule. Yet even as he walks the reader through China's dark side, Liu's optimism shines through--and it's hard not to come away believing, as he does, that history is on his side. -- Jimmy Lai Wall Street Journal 20111217 Offers a glimpse into the coruscating mind of one of China's greatest dissident thinkers. ..Chinese officials regularly describe Liu as a dangerous criminal who threatens the very foundations of the state. The conclusion many readers of this powerful and fascinating collection of Liu's writings will reach is that those foundations are not as strong as the Chinese government likes to portray to the outside world...Even for those unfamiliar with Chinese politics or the country's human rights record, this book should appeal because of the moving poetry and beautifully written essays...The best chance yet for those who cannot read Chinese to hear the voice of China's conscience. -- Jamil Anderlini Financial Times 20120127 A fascinating... compendium and an important read for anyone interested in the Quaker injunction to "speak truth to power." Liu is virtually a paragon of that injunction, and of the words of the Gospel according to John: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." In No Enemies, he rebukes his fellow Chinese elites who "have yet to learn how to draw spiritual meaning from our encounters with suffering, how to live in human dignity, or how to feel concern for the suffering of actual, ordinary people." He not only criticizes the politically privileged he sees as stifling human growth and expression, he also admonishes his fellow Chinese who know the truth, but are too easily intimidated to attempt unmasking and opposing it. But Liu saves his most incisive analysis for the Chinese government, tracking its legacy of nationalism from ancient times through Mao and beyond, as well as its perennial campaign to muzzle dissent and clamp down popular unrest...Liu's essays are efforts to persuade his readers to recognize that the world is moving in the direction of freedom and democracy, and to encourage us to do what we can to help achieve change... No Enemies, No Hatred is a virtual ethnography of China's political and economic corruption and what he calls an "atrophied sense of justice."...In bringing the plight of his people to the world, and being suitably honored for it with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo positions himself as a teacher and an advocate in a freedom, democracy, and justice movement that does seem to be growing around the world...No Enemies, No Hatred is strong in many ways and a bit lacking in others, which puts it in league with most other great books on such loaded topics as freedom and totalitarianism. Liu does belong in that pantheon, and I am delighted to find him firmly placed there. -- Gordon Fellman Los Angeles Review of Books 20120309 Much like Vaclav Havel's collection Open Letters, No Enemies, No Hatred seeks to give readers the most comprehensive summary of the immense output of this literary scholar and social critic...The writings span from just before the Tiananmen Square demonstrations to just before [Liu's] imprisonment 20 years later...The translations create for English language readers a sense of a man who writes with eloquence, knowledge and moral clarity in the impassioned defense of human rights...Liu's vision for China is sweeping, even epic. Its expression harkens not to the theoretical obfuscation of Mao, but to the clarity of Thomas Paine and Niccolo Machiavelli. Like their works, Liu's comes at a critical time: when Western citizens need to truly learn about the multitudes that define the rising superpower that is Liu's China; and when they need to be led not just by a rousing voice but by a guiding one. -- Chris R. Morgan Open Letters Monthly 20120401 No Enemies, No Hatred marks the inaugural English-language collection of Liu's work...[It] demonstrates the breadth--and intellectual and emotional potency--of a powerful writer and political advocate...[No Enemies, No Hatred] is a wonderful introduction to Liu's work. Liu writes with ease and persuasiveness on subjects ranging from land grabs of farmland by corrupt officials, to child slavery, to Confucius. He has a knack for nailing contemporary China. -- Emily-Anne Owen The Independent 20120413 This book surprised me with its bold and outspoken perspective of modern China, seen from inside by a passionate advocate for individual rights in the world's largest-ever mass state. The terms of reference offer reflections on our own society as well as on China's. -- Richard Thwaites Canberra Times 20120602