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The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for…
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The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for Justice and Freedom in China

by Chen Guangcheng (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Story of the Chinese activist who caused an international incident There was some fantastic drama out a Chinese lawyer fleeing to the US embassy in China to ask for help. This is the story up to that escape.
 
Chen Guangcheng went blind very early on, but he survived and thrived. Throughout his childhood he coped and learned how to do many things that other people with sight did, and would eventually learn Braille. As he entered school, Chen began to take note of the unfairness and corruption that surrounded him. He became more and more active, eventually becoming a lawyer.
 
Eventually his situation became untenable, and he escaped to the US embassy, causing a major diplomatic incident. I wanted to read this partially to find out his side of the story, since I had no idea what to believe. I still think that it was a very delicate dance of diplomacy, missteps by every party involved, including Chen. For example, he creates a list of demands while at the embassy, including an investigation done on some officials.
 
It just seemed a little ridiculous: after all that he's seen up close, did he think that the Chinese government would suddenly bow down and acquiesce because he was sitting in the US embassy? Did he not think of the consequences of making such demands on his family, friends, associates, etc?
 
I found it very difficult to get into the book. While it starts off with a bang: he recounts his escape from his home (which is a bookend to the end of the book), the book mostly drags. I didn't care about his childhood too much (although it was interesting to read what his childhood was like in rural China) and I found the writing just not very compelling. I don't know if it's a matter of translation, because reviews focused almost entirely on his escape to the embassy and the diplomatic drama that followed or something else. It was tough and at times to keep reading.
 
That said, anyone who has an interest in China, Chinese law, human rights, etc. would probably find this interesting. But I'd recommend borrowing it from the library first. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book has confirmed two things that I have always contended. One is the Chinese have no concept of human rights, by Chinese I mean the Chinese government. The Chinese people are like people everywhere, a mix of good and bad. Some will do only what they have to, will take a job that is wrong because they need money, and some will risk everything to do what is right.

From the back: “One morning in April 2012, China’s most famous political activist — a blind, self-taught lawyer — climbed over the wall of his heavily guarded home and escaped.”

Chen Guangcheng relates his childhood, the difficulties growing up poor and blind in rural China. His descriptions around him are vivid, describing the smells and his impressions of the world around him, how he learned so much from being observant, listening and paying attention to everything around him. He also gives us a history lesson of the politics in China, how he got his education and the discrimination he faced as a disabled person.

A very interesting book, although a bit draggy in spots, still an enjoyable memoir that I recommend. One complaint, he does not related much of his life after he escaped from China. I realize that is a spoiler, but if you read the author bio, you would already know that. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Sep 15, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is like a major splash of cold water in the face of one who takes for granted the freedom we enjoy here in the U.S. Guangcheng was born in a poor rural village and suffered a disease when very young that left him blind to all but the vaguest splashes of color. He was the fifth son of his family and grew up chasing his brothers and friends around the village learning to rely on his other senses of touch and hearing to get around. Even though his family was desperately poor, they managed to get enough money together to send him to a school for the blind where he learned to read and became aware of the neglect and mistreatment suffered by handicapped people. He went on to higher education and began standing up for his rights and the rights of other blind people. He soon attracted the attention of the Communist Party who leaned on local agencies to harass and otherwise make his life difficult. His main accomplishment was forcing the Beijing MTA accept the state issued handicap cards that allowed people to ride mass transit for free.

His next crusade was against the amazingly violent and cruel steps taken against people who violated the one child program China was trying to set up to control the population. He collected stories from people and made contacts with other activists, and international media. As a result he was thrown into prison on trumped up charges and sentenced to four years. He suffered many beatings and severe malnutrition before being released. However, he returned home and placed under house arrest. This meant constant guards outside his house, frequent home invasions where they searched for radios and cell phones, electronic surveillance, and pressure on his friends and family.

Guancheng finally was able to leave China with his wife and two children but he left behind other family members, friends, and other activists who continue to suffer physical and mental abuse at the hands of the state.

When I read this book, I thought of all the travel programs I have seen where people travel through the country enjoying the scenery and the food and are totally blind to this hidden aspect of life in China. Though many laws exist supposedly to protect the citizens, most are abused and the old ways of bribery and theft are carried out without consequences.

This was a stunning and brutal story of one man's attempts to improve life in China and the consequences. While the style of writing was plain and factual the story carries the reader along with Guangcheng and his battles to live and protect people. ( )
  mamzel | Jul 21, 2015 |
Those of us who are sighted and live in a free, democratic country will never fully appreciate what Guangchen Chen underwent. "The Barefoot Lawyer" is his story and talks of his fight against injustice, discrimination, and jut plain inhumane treatment. Why was he discriminated against? Because he was blind; and more importantly dared to question his treatment. Guangcheng was determined not to settle for a 'career' as a fortuneteller or storyteller which was the lot of blind people in his village. He stood up for his rights and those of other disabled people and poor villagers and paid an inordinate price. A very well-told, captivating memoir. ( )
  Writermala | Jul 4, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a mind blowing story. The author has such resilience and faith that you can't help but get caught up in the emotion of the story, his story. This is not an action packed tale of espionage but an inspiring story of a man against all odds who survived to tell the The United States, the world about human rights violations and crimes, political and otherwise that are unbelievable. This is one of those life changing books, but only if you let it. Highly recommended!

Provided by publisher. ( )
  hfineisen | Jun 19, 2015 |
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Guangcheng, ChenAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
In the world as we know it, are there things that are difficult, as well as things that are easy? Through action, those things that seem difficult become easy; with inaction, things that are easy become difficult.
Peng Duanshu (1699-1799), from On Studying
Bring forth all that is good in the world, and expunge all that is bad.
Mencius (372-289 BCE), from Universal Love III
One who is shut indoors may come to know the world; one who does not look out the window may understand the principles of heaven.
Laozi (Fifth century BCE), from the Dao De Jing
Dedication
For my mother, Wang jinxiang;

and my wife, Yuan Weijing
First words
We watched them as they watched us.
Quotations
But this moment seemed particularly quiet, and I thought of how a person’s life proceeds in stages, one after another, and how no stage can be repeated. Once a stage is over, there is no going back.
Their stories confirmed my belief that the Cultural Revolution has never ended--it has simply metastasized.
Consider the absurdity of this sprawling operation: the government had created an entire anti-Guuancheng industry, all with the aim of controlling one blind, nonviolent man.
But what troubled me most that the time was this: when negotiating with a government run by hooligans, the country that most consistently advocated for democracy, freedom, and universal human rights had simply given in.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805098054, Hardcover)

An electrifying memoir by the blind Chinese activist who inspired millions with the story of his fight for justice and his belief in the cause of freedom

It was like a scene out of a thriller: one morning in April 2012, China’s most famous political activist—a blind, self-taught lawyer—climbed over the wall of his heavily guarded home and escaped. Days later, he turned up at the American embassy in Beijing, and only a furious round of high-level negotiations made it possible for him to leave China and begin a new life in the United States.

Chen Guangcheng is a unique figure on the world stage, but his story is even more remarkable than anyone knew. The son of a poor farmer in rural China, blinded by illness when he was an infant, Chen was fortunate to survive a difficult childhood. But despite his disability, he was determined to educate himself and fight for the rights of his country’s poor, especially a legion of women who had endured forced sterilizations and abortions under the hated "one child" policy. Repeatedly harassed, beaten, and imprisoned by Chinese authorities, Chen was ultimately placed under house arrest. After nearly two years of increasing danger, he evaded his captors and fled to freedom.

Both a riveting memoir and a revealing portrait of modern China, The Barefoot Lawyer tells the story of a man who has never accepted limits and always believed in the power of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:36 -0400)

An electrifying memoir by the blind Chinese activist who inspired millions with the story of his fight for justice and his belief in the cause of freedom.

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