Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Camphor Press releases Shackleton's "Formosa Calling"

My friends at Camphor Press have released Formosa Calling, a harrowing account of the 2-28 massacre by Allan Shackleton...
Allan J. Shackleton was a New Zealand officer with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration assigned to in Taiwan at the time. His eyewitness account of the massacre is an important piece in understanding modern Taiwan’s founding tragedy. Shackleton tried for years to get Formosa Calling published, but it was deemed too politically sensitive during the Cold War when “Free China” was an ally of the Western world. Finally, after Taiwan’s first democratic presidential election, a Taiwanese-American publisher approached Shackleton’s son to publish the book, and it first appeared in 1998, forty years after it was written.
This first person account has the authentic voice of a witness who lards nothing with literary artifice or exaggeration, and hits hard. Of the massacre's final days, for example, he writes....
During all these days I had been visiting a Japanese-trained Formosan doctor who was treating my ankle, and this day he had several interesting visitors. There was a man staying in the house who was frightened to go out as the military police might pick him up. They told interesting stories of the looting that was carried on by the military. In general this was done, not only to make good deficiencies in food and equipment, but also with the idea of re-selling and making money. Therefore, nothing was really exempt from the attentions of the soldiers. But more serious was the fact that there were lying about the streets in the mornings, the dead bodies of important people who had been dragged from their houses at night and shot. The military police had been making inquiries for a certain Council member who was over at Taito. He had gone to Taipei via Karenko and Suo while the trouble in Takao was on. He had, therefore, no connection with the rioting in Takao at all. But what he had done frequently was to ask the Government to establish law and justice in place of the travesty that was now being foisted on the people. He was therefore a marked man.
"He was therefore a marked man". Readable and interesting, this book makes a good counterpoint to George Kerr's masterpiece.
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