For the CDT Bookshelf, China Digital Times invites experts on China to recommend a book to CDT readers. This month, Washington Post correspondent John Pomfret recommends Prisoner of Mao, by Bao Ruo-wang (Jean Pasqualini), 326 pages, Penguin (out of print but easily available on any old books site on the Internet).
Pomfret writes: “It is the story of a half-French, half-Chinese man’s experience in the Chinese gulag in the 1950s and 1960s. He tells the story of China’s revolution through his experience of being accused and then convicted of espionage — on behalf of the United States. His experience represents the best eye-witness account of the techniques the CCP used to gain and maintain control of China. Those techniques are still used widely today. As such, this book, to me at least, constitutes a critical primer on how the CCP runs China.”
See also John K. Fairbank’s review of “Prisoner of Mao” from the November 1, 1973 New York Review of Books (by subscription only).
Raised in New York City and educated at Stanford and Nanjing universities, John Pomfret is an award-winning journalist with The Washington Post. He has been a foreign correspondent for 15 years, covering big wars and small in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Congo, Sri Lanka, Iraq, southwestern Turkey and northeastern Iran. Pomfret has spent seven years covering China – one in the late 1980s during the Tiananmen Square protests and then from 1998 until the end of 2003 as the bureau chief for The Washington Post in Beijing.
Pomfret speaks, reads and writes Mandarin, having spent two years at Nanjing University in the early 1980s as part of one of the first groups of American students to study in China. He has been a bartender in Paris and practiced Judo in Japan.
In 2003, Pomfret was awarded the Osborne Elliot Award for the best coverage of Asia by the Asia Society.
He is married to a Chinese entrepreneur and has one son.