The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem

Ethan Gutmann. Prometheus Books, $25.95 (325p) ISBN 978-1-61614-940-6
Gutmann’s account of China’s repugnant practice of harvesting organs from prisoners is a vital step toward exposing a state-sanctioned practice. A Brookings analyst turned journalist, Gutmann (Losing the New China) delves into the industrialization of organ harvesting from not-quite-dead prisoners as they are executed. This practice coincided with the rise of Falun Gong, a Buddhist revival movement that grew to huge proportions by the late 1990s, spurring a crackdown by the Communist Party. Gutmann explores the hideous economics of selling healthy prisoners’ organs to citizens, as well as to foreigners traveling to China for “transplant tourism,” on a “kill to order” basis (organs taken from a live patient have a lower rejection rate). In interviews with former prisoners, doctors, ex-policemen, and human rights activists, Gutmann shows how this practice has been obscured, in part because Falun Gong lost its public relations battle for Western media sympathy. Though the author’s scrupulousness costs this complicated, murky story vital narrative cohesion, his analysis of how China gulled the rest of the world is astute, and effectively shows that hiding the fate of Falun Gong prisoners is a “denial of an outright atrocity.” Agent: Maryann Karinch, Rudy Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/12/2014
Release date: 08/12/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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