Behind the Forbidden Door: Travels in Unknown China

Tiziano Terzani, Author
Tiziano Terzani, Author Henry Holt & Company $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-03-008508-6
Reviewed on: 08/05/1986
Release date: 08/01/1986
While a student at Columbia University in the 1960s, Terzani, who was born and raised in Italy, came to believe so deeply in the Maoist goal of creating a socialist utopia that he became fluent in Chinese, adopted a Chinese name and applied to the Chinese government for permission to move to the People's Republic, which was granted in 1980. This volume chronicles his four years there and his disillusionment not only with Mao's regime, but with Deng Xiaoping's as well. He describes the destruction of much of China's cultural legacybuildings, shrines, artworkfrom Peking to the outermost provinces; the rampant pollution; discrimination against minorities, notably Tibetans; the loss to the people of many traditional amenities (Mao termed pets ""bourgeois indulgences'' and had the animals killed). Terzani argues that Western views of Deng as a liberal ruler guiding his nation along a capitalist road are naive; that Deng's overriding goal is the maintenance of party control; that his chief modernization has been the streamlining of the police apparatus along the lines of the KGB. As a result of the reports on China he published in European journals, Terzani was arrested and expelled from the country. He concludes, ``The Chinese remain the greatest illusionists in the world. Only the illusion changes.'' Terzani is now der Spiegel's Far Eastern correspondent, based in Tokyo. (August 11)OOD MORNING, I'M JOAN
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!