Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mao's Last Dancer 

I have written a number of book reviews for Amazon, and also for Powell's Books. For some reason, my review of Mao's Last Dancer has generated more comments than any other. I haven't written a review for some time, but I still get an email whenever someone comments on one of my reviews. Here is one I felt was worth sharing:
I feel that the reviewer is an honest man and tries to see "both sides", but unfortunately one cannot see the other side without experience it. I as a refuge from the communist country (former Czechoslovakia)remember how during the Nazi occupation we could not believe the Russian refugees from the USSR that Stalin is the same devil as Hitler. Several years later and lot of imprisoned, murdered people, we agreed. Maybe that is our human nature to learn so slowly. To simplify the problem: some people accept millions of executed people worth for the "social progress", others are inclined to accept Dostoevsky's ".. No revolution is worth of a tear of one child.."


I should say that, while my review was not without criticism, I did like the book, and gave it five stars. It is well worth reading. The comment of this reader makes me wonder if I would have seen the book differently if I had actually grown up in the China that Mao's last dancer came from. Perhaps. And Mr. Kriz seems to be referring to the issue of political repression. But there is also the issue of poverty. Many people in the China in which Mao's last dancer grew up were not inclined to be affected by political repression, because they were too desperately poor for it to matter. This, I think it the issue I was exploring. The Dancer rebelled against a system he disliked because it infringed upon his ability fully to experience the life of the privileged in America. But his exposure to that privileged American life was made possible only because he was among the privileged in China--a privilege granted to him by the very system against which he was rebelling. Would he have preferred the life of a poor man in America to his life of privilege in China?

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