Hostage in Peking
by Anthony Grey
Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY
This book, an autobiography by Anthony Grey, outlines the time he spent in Beijing, China from 1967 till 1969. Grey was held under house arrest and later in solitary confinement by the Chinese government, before he was finally allowed to leave and return to his native country of Great Britain.
The back drop for this book is China's Cultural Revolution. Grey, a Reuters correspondent, has been assigned to cover the Revolution from Beijing. As tensions mount toward foreigns in not only Beijing, but in the whole country, Grey is especially vulnerable because of his nationality. Although not there representing his country, to the millions of Chinese he does. At this time troubles were mounting between the British controlled Hong Kong and China. As Chinese protesters are arrested in Hong Kong, anti-British feelings mounted in China.
Soon Grey is subjected to having his home in Beijing plastered with posters and being paraded by protesters. Some of the posters said such things as: "Crush British Imperialism- only the people are really strong","We strongly oppose British fascist authorities in Hong Kong- the Chinese people will not stand idly by","Wilson must be fried","Crush Wilson's head,"Down with the British Imperialist bastard", and "The end of British Imperialism". Finally Grey decides to leave China, but is unable to leave before one of the Chinese protesters in Hong Kong is sentenced to two years imprisonment. This marks the beginning of Grey’s dealings with the Chinese government.
Two days later Grey is put under house arrest. Grey, representing a news agency and not the British government, it unable to bring the Chinese officials to see this. It was made clear to him that the release of the Chinese protesters in Hong Kong would bring about his return of freedom of movement.
Approximately two months later Grey's house is invaded and destroyed by protestors. Posters and paint are everywhere and Grey is subjected to being jet-planned. He is then placed in solitary confinement in his own house. A spare room is converted into his cell.
Grey spends a good portion of the book explaining what it was like in solitary confinement, both the rules he lived under and what it was like psychologically to be in his situation. Such things as daily time outside and fresh fruits and vegetables were things that for much of the time Grey only dreamed about. Not to mention privacy. He had little to bargain with and the British government was not very successful with their negotiations. He was eventually released, but only after the prisoners in Hong Kong were also.
This book offers an amazing look at China during the Cultural Revolution. Amazing little actually resentment towards the Chinese is expressed in the book. Rather Grey is simply trying to convey what happened to him. While a nonfiction book, I found it a very interesting book to read. I even went so far as to write my senior English paper on it. From experience I can tell you this is a story that has not really been told. Perhaps someone in Great Britain or China would have better luck, but this was not a story told in United States newspapers. Grey is only mentioned perhaps a half a dozen times in the New York times the whole term of his confinement. Also, good luck finding this book. I happened to stumble upon it. If someone is really interested in it, I might be able to get it to you. Just let me know.