Hijacked history (review of ‘The Hijacked War’ for Taipei Times)

The following book review appeared in today’s Taipei Times:

Outside historical circles, the name Li Da-an (李大安) will be familiar to few Taiwanese. However, there was a time where this lowly soldier was feted as a national hero in Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) propaganda.

As one of 155,000 inmates in the UN’s POW camp on South Korea’s Geoje island, Li was responsible for barbaric murders, mutilations and beatings between May 1951 and April 1952. Yet with the publication of The History of the Anti-communist Fighters’ Struggles by the KMT government in 1955, Li and his brutish henchmen were hailed as loyal patriots.

While this hagiography did not completely hide the gory details, it portrayed the violence as a necessary evil. The extent of the horror did not emerge until much later. Although previous works have detailed the excesses of the Chinese POW camps, none offer such a meticulous and politically neutral account as that found in this magnificent book.

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