Crashing the Party

Crashing the Party

An American Reporter in China

Paperback - 2016
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It's 1983. Scott Savitt, one of the first American exchange students in Beijing, picks up his guitar and begins strumming Blackbird. He's soon surrounded by Chinese students who know every word to every Beatles song he plays. Scott stays on in Beijing, working as a reporter for Asiaweek Magazine. The city's first nightclubs open; rock 'n' roll promises democracy. Promoted to foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times then United Press International, Scott finds himself drawn into China's political heart.

Later, at 25 years old, Scott is the youngest accredited foreign correspondent in China with an intimate knowledge of Beijing's backstreets. But as the seven week occupation of Tiananmen Square ends in bloodshed on June 4, 1989, his greatest asset is his flame-red 500 cc. Honda motorcycle--giving Scott the freedom to witness first-hand what the Chinese government still denies ever took place. After Tiananmen, Scott founds the first independent English language newspaper in China, Beijing Scene. He knows that it's only a matter of time before the authorities move in, and sure enough, in 2000 he's arrested, flung into solitary confinement and, after a month in jail, deported.

Scott Savitt's memoir turns this complex political-historical subject into an extraordinary adventure story.
Published: Berkeley, CA :, Soft Skull Press, an imprint of Counterpoint,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781593766528
1593766521
Branch Call Number: 070.92 SAV
Characteristics: 287 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm

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StarGladiator
Jan 22, 2020

I HAVE A DREAM, A DREAM OF FREEDOM. I HAVE A DREAM OF DEMOCRACY. I HAVE A DREAM OF A LIFE ENDOWED WITH HUMAN RIGHTS. MAY THE DAY COME WHEN ALL THESE ARE MORE THAN JUST DREAMS. MARXISM--LENINISM AND MAO ZEDONG THOUGHT, GO TO HELL!
- - - - sign held aloft by anonymous Chinese protester in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, 1989
______________________________________________________________________________________
This is a fascinating memoir of a a young American reporter in China - - until the day he was kicked out. Sure, at times he sounds a bit glib - - but he's recounting his 20s and who among us at that age wasn't glib? [And, yes, I really do find it difficult to believe that the author, in 1989, had a vibrating cell phone in his pocket, so I agree with commenter Jim below, but otherwise . . . .]
At the end of the book the author supplied the reader with photos he had taken, most of the June Fourth Massacre {Tiananmen Square Massacre}, with a particularly gruesome one depicting crushed protesters and bicycles at Liubukou intersection which really tells the story. When the PLA tanks and armored vehicles rolled through Beijing on their way to Tiananmen Square, they stopped for no one: secretaries on their way home were crushed to death, so too children waiting at bus stops and people at train stations. Meanwhile, maids setting or clearing tables in various apartments were shot to death by PLA snipers - - so much carnage for no reason other than sowing terror among the citizenry!
The Chinese Red Cross reported 2,000 dead from the local hospitals, but those hospitals first reported that they turned away 10 times that number - - many thousands were slaughtered during that massacre - - just as recently it was reported "hundreds" of protesters were shot dead in Iran, while the actual number was closer to 2,000!

j
jimtroeltsch
Sep 23, 2018

This book will appeal to those who have an interest in modern China.

Highlight: The author had a particularly unique experience on June 4, 1989... I wish he would have elaborated more on it. Most accounts of the Tiananmen crackdown come from around the square or just to the east of it, Savitt managed to get behind advancing troops several miles west of the square, which is where the carnage that night largely took place. There were few casualties in the square itself. It's the only account I've read, and I've read many, from that vantage.

Lowlight: Despite being a journalist, I suspect Savitt has a penchant for embellishment. Although it is totally possible that this is my own mistaken belief. He also has a habit, often displayed by foreigners who have spent years in China, of constantly inserting pinyin into English sentences. It gets a bit irritating, especially with the proverbs and idioms.

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