Available Spring 2009
This powerful book presents documents on a span of time that begins with the war between the Communists and Chinese Nationalists in the mid 1940's and continues until 1983, shortly before the phrase of "modernization" promoted by Deng Xiaoping after the death of Mao. They cover four crucial decades in contemporary Chinese history. These documents are the memoirs of persons who have experienced in their own flesh how far the violence of a power blinded by ideology can go, a power which, after winning its battle against an armed enemy, had decided to exterminate its "enemies without gun", as Mao in a famous speech described intellectuals, believers and opponents.
From the historical perspective these are contributors of great value, especially for anyone who wants to learn about the injustices and brutality of Maoism. Only in recent years have non-specialists had access to autobiographical testimonies concerning the laogi, the Chinese forced labor camps. But we have a long way to go before we know about that life in as much detail as is available concering the Soviet gulags thanks to Solzhenitsyn. The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs partially fills this gap. It is a gap that originated in precise politico-cultural circumstances which explain why a book of this sort has never until now seen the light of day.
The ideological baggage encumbering historiography and journalism on the subject of China has severly limited the opportunities for learning about and publicizing these stories of Christian persecution and martyrdom. The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs intends to be also a denunciation of Maoism and of its crimes. After decades of ideological propaganda, we are finally able to see a "demythologization of Mao", who was responsible for crimes equal to or even worse than those of Stalin and Hitler (eighty million dead during the period of the "Great Leap Forward", 1958-1961).
While reading The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs one cannot help noticing what a tragedy has befallen the Chinese people, in particular the believers. But all this has not destroyed thier faith. Therefore Cardinal Zen is able to write in his Preface: "The pages that you will read are not primarily pages of suffering and sorrow; they are also and above pages of joy."
Gerolamo Fazzini, a professional journalist, is the co-director of the monthly magazine World and Mission of PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), and an editorial writer for the daily newspaper Avvenire. An expert on international topics and religion news, he coordinates the Italian Federation of the Missionary Press which represents about forty missionary publications. He has reported on various stories in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and China.
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