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. His girlfriend is the assistant to Bette Bao Lord, the wife of the U.S. ambassador. He interviews people who will become leaders of the democracy movement.
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 500cc 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 extraordinary memoir of his two decades in China manages to take an extremely complex political-historical subject and turn it into an adventure story.
Scott Savitt has immersed himself in China’s history and culture, enriching his story with hard-earned wisdom and insights. He takes us on an exciting ride through his 18 years in China--from the country’s first opening to American students and then on to Tiananmen and his solitary confinement in a Chinese jail. This book should appeal both to those who know China well and those who are just discovering it.
A fascinating look at China’s recent tumultuous past.
An energetic memoir that captures the collision between an open-hearted iconoclast and a free-market totalitarian state.
[A] page-turning debut...Savitt is a smart, thrilling memoirist, but his book is not just a narrative roller-coaster ride: readers will receive a new understanding of what has happened in China over the past 30 years, from someone who stood shoulder to shoulder with students asking for a better country.