Shantung Compound: The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure Paperback – 18 Jul 1991
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"A fascinating memoir... a vivid diary of prison life." -- "time"
From the Back Cover
When the props of society are taken away, how do people survive? Langdon Gilkey was a young American teacher at Yenching University near Peking, China, when the Japanese military under wartime pressure rounded up all foreigners into an internment camp. Two and a half years later they were released. Santung Compound is based on a journal Dr. Gilkey kept during his imprisonment.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Always the philosopher, Gilkey kept an extensive diary, analyzing the events in the camp in terms of what they revealed about human nature. What was revealed about human nature was that it was baaad. Gilkey quotes the Threepenny Opera: "For even saintly folk will act like sinners / Unless they have their customary dinners." For example, seemingly respectable and moral internees, caught stealing food from the camp kitchens, would often make impassioned speeches, about how their actions amounted to patriotic commando raids against the enemy. They clearly believed this, though it was of course ridiculous: the theft hurt the Japanese not at all, but was a very serious problem for the other underfed internees.
In the last ten pages, suddenly, ignoring his own evidence from the camp, Gilkey concludes that humans need faith in the Providence of God to give them the willpower to resist temptation, and to give their lives Purpose. This last section consists of jarringly ill-conceived gibberish; but the rest of the book is fascinating, well-written, and thought-provoking.
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