Book Reviews

Praise for Taking on China by Karen Patterson

“The artist Wu Yuren found out that China has little tolerance for dissent – and no justice in its courts. Many before and after have made similar, painful discoveries. Not all of these cases make it into the public realm; many acts of defiance are known only to those who suffer, and their families. That’s why it’s important the stories of people like Wu Yuren are told. The world must know about the courage shown by the few who dare stand up to China’s repressive government, and the sacrifices made by their family and friends who seek to free them. Karen Patterson’s book about her attempts to get her husband’s release is not just about the pain experienced by one family, but a window onto a country where freedom is no one’s right.”

Michael Bristow, Asia-Pacific editor for the BBC World Service

“Karen Patterson’s story is one of bravery and resistance, a one-woman struggle against the repressive and Orwellian Chinese state. Anyone who met Karen was inspired by her battle to keep her family together, and to keep her husband Wu Yuren’s case in the public eye after he disappeared into the regime’s prisons. Taking on China is an important first-person account of Karen’s ultimately successful fight.”

Mark MacKinnon, Senior International Correspondent, The Globe and Mail

“One of the best things about doing consular work, which means helping Canadians in distress, is the opportunity to learn from how people react in the face of enormous challenges. Karen Patterson is an exceptional teacher. Her courage, unwavering loyalty, fierce intelligence, and fearless determination—which shine through the pages of her book—offered me an example I will never forget. May we all be so lucky as to have a friend like her.”

David Mulroney, Canadian Ambassador to China, 2009-2012

“What terror strikes a wife and mother when her husband and father of her infant is thrown in jail without trial for nothing more than protesting the closure of his art studio? Such dread, fear and confusion – the stuff of dystopian nightmares from Orwell’s pen – we could only imagine until now. Canadian Karen Patterson’s book ‘Taking on China’ reveals not only her frantic search of local police stations to find out where husband and Chinese artist Wu Yuren was being detained but also her emotional struggle and long bitter fight with a ruthless authoritarian state apparatus to set him free. Her book shines a light on the plight of thousands of Chinese who take on the authorities in the name of justice and human rights to free loved ones wrongly detained. Few succeed and fewer still have the luck of a different nationality to tell the world.”

Peter Simpson, Editor/Journalist

“This story is more than inspiring. It’s a heartfelt call to action, proof that even in China one person’s relentless pursuit of justice can make a difference. To follow Karen step by step as she fights to free her unjustly accused artist husband from prison is to discover just how cruel and random the Chinese justice system can be to its own people. And how necessary it is to stand up for them, as Karen did, whenever we can.”

Gillian Steward, Columnist, Toronto Star

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