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10 thoughts on “Shantung Compound

  1. says:

    This is the most provocative book I ve read in my adult life It powerfully evokes a very civilized despair for the human social condition It implies that the Western notion of the social contract to be a wistful, romantic notion I think I said that in a nice way Shantung Compound was a blunt, clarifying, transformative read for me In Gilkey s words, This book is about the life of a civilian internment camp in North China during the war against JapanBecause internment camp life seems This is the most provocative book I ve read in my adult life It powerfully evokes a very civilized despair for the human social condition It implies that the Western notion of the social contract to be a wistful, romantic notion I think I said that in a nice way Shantung Compound was a blunt, clarifying, transformative read for me In Gilkey s words, This book is about the life of a civilian internment camp in North China during the war against JapanBecause internment camp life seems to revealclearly than does ordinary experience the anatomy of man s common social and moral problems and the bases of human communal existence, this book finally has been written Gilkey was a 24 year old American teacher in a Chinese university when World War II commenced He and about 2,000 others, mostly Europeans including academics, clergy and businessmen, were imprisoned forthan two years in relatively benign conditions in the Weihsien camp near Shantung Their Japanese captors provided the bare minimum of food and coal, and told the inmates to run the camp inside the walls.Shantung Compound is Gilkey s account of the endlessly frustrated attempts, by various camp leaders and elected committees and a few charismatic individuals, to enforce a fair allocation of the smallish rooms and dorm beds, to get everyone to do a fair share of work, to prevent stealing, to settle social disputes, to provide for the exceptional needs of the elderly, the frail, the young kids, the nursing mothers.The overwhelming truth is that, facing the prospective dangers and daily extremities of camp life, nearly all of the internees didn t rise to the occasion to protect the weak and to cooperate rationally for their own good and the common good.Instead, this is what nearly all of the internees most of them white, educated, Western tended to do most of the time they conspicuously looked out for themselves and their families, declined to dothan a modicum of work, refused to give up some of their equal share of food and housing to needier fellow inmates, shied away from volunteer leadership, declined to share the contents of relief parcels sent by their own governments, stole food and supplies whenever possible, refused to punish the egregious wrongdoers among them, and rationalized most of their uncharitable, uncooperative and uncivil behavior in complex variations of religious and humanist moralities.Mind you, this wasn t humanity in a state of nature NoNature, red in tooth and claw stuff The Japanese guards remained aloof from the prisoners largely autonomous camp administration, and permitted black market trading with villagers outside the camp The internees lived in dismal but not life threatening conditions They lived peaceably, often manifesting their shortcomings in a nominally genteel way In a perverted sense, they were in a protected environment, and really didn t worry much about anything except surviving in a tolerably impoverished condition as part of a generally homogeneous group.They could have lived an Enlightenment fantasy They could have established a coherent community with orderly cooperation, consensual leadership and rational allocation of food, housing and civic niceties to appropriately satisfy the disparate needs of all.But they didn t.Here endeth the lesson for today.More reviews on my website


  2. says:

    If you re interested in ethics, morality and psychology, you ll enjoy this I read this because I heard a reference from it about Eric Ridley in a sermon, but there s only about a paragraph about him after nearly 200 pages So not exactly what I was expecting for information on him, but still interesting Gilkey is humorous and insightful, but at times I tired of the philosophy a little However, there is rich wisdom in the end of the book and I would buy a copy just for that Lastly, it is fair If you re interested in ethics, morality and psychology, you ll enjoy this I read this because I heard a reference from it about Eric Ridley in a sermon, but there s only about a paragraph about him after nearly 200 pages So not exactly what I was expecting for information on him, but still interesting Gilkey is humorous and insightful, but at times I tired of the philosophy a little However, there is rich wisdom in the end of the book and I would buy a copy just for that Lastly, it is fairly informative about a part of WWII that I didn t really know about


  3. says:

    Why this book Recommended to my by my friend Peter Rae.Summary in 3 sentences Imagine taking a fairly random group of about 2000 civilians from a number of different countries, locking them inside a small compound, taking away all rank privilege or previous status, providing food and basic necessities, isolating them from all contact with the outside world, and telling them to figure it out That s what the Japanese did with western civilians in China when they occupied China during WWII L Why this book Recommended to my by my friend Peter Rae.Summary in 3 sentences Imagine taking a fairly random group of about 2000 civilians from a number of different countries, locking them inside a small compound, taking away all rank privilege or previous status, providing food and basic necessities, isolating them from all contact with the outside world, and telling them to figure it out That s what the Japanese did with western civilians in China when they occupied China during WWII Langdon Gilkey, an idealistic young Harvard grad teaching in Peking was one of those 2000, and in Shantung Compound, he shares his experiences in that compound, and draws his very interesting conclusions about human nature and morality.My impressions This is fascinating book that is full of wisdom and insight about human nature and man the social animal It is a book I would love to read and discuss with people who are thoughtful about communities, society, politics and how people can best live together It is real it really happened This author was there, and writes about his experience with care and compassion, and shares the many insights and lessons learned he gained from his experience This book is a gift I m surprised it isn t better known.To read the rest of my review with an extensive list of quotes, to to


  4. says:

    A powerful portrayal of humanity Gilkey pulls back the layers of human motivation by retelling his experience at Shantung Compound a detainee camp in China during WWII The result is a honest and genuine expression of the human psyche His story has seeped into my consciousness and will go with me for years to come This is a book that I will come back to every few years as a way to remind me of the complexity of humanity.


  5. says:

    I ve tried to write a review a couple of time but each time I make the book sound boring.So instead I really enjoyed this book.I would read it again.I ve quoted this bookthan 5 times in the last 2 weeks.It was entertaining I laughed out loud in places.My worldview was significantly and wonderfully challenged.


  6. says:

    This is one of the most thought provoking books I have read and I highly recommend it Gilkey s experience in a WWII internment camp forced him to see just how selfish we as human beings truly are When things were difficult, those who were interned in the camp tended to be muchconcerned with their own personal welfare and security than with that of the whole group It frightens me to think how poorly I might respond to a similar situation, especially after reading about how poorly many t This is one of the most thought provoking books I have read and I highly recommend it Gilkey s experience in a WWII internment camp forced him to see just how selfish we as human beings truly are When things were difficult, those who were interned in the camp tended to be muchconcerned with their own personal welfare and security than with that of the whole group It frightens me to think how poorly I might respond to a similar situation, especially after reading about how poorly many though not all of the Protestant missionaries in the camp fared It was also interesting to me that the author s experience led him to conclude that the Christian doctrine of original sin was the only adequate explanation for the human behavior that he observed He also seems to have concluded that the Christian doctrine of God s providence as the only thing that can give true meaning to life


  7. says:

    Heard about this book while listening to Tim Keller in his March 7, 2016 sermon RISE Changed Lives, when he was reading from a portion that included some of Gilkey s views on Eric Liddell who was also in the camp and on human nature and religion He closed after the following quote from the book Religion is not the place where the problem of man s egotism is automatically solved Rather, it is there that the ultimate battle between human pride and God s grace takes place Human pride may Heard about this book while listening to Tim Keller in his March 7, 2016 sermon RISE Changed Lives, when he was reading from a portion that included some of Gilkey s views on Eric Liddell who was also in the camp and on human nature and religion He closed after the following quote from the book Religion is not the place where the problem of man s egotism is automatically solved Rather, it is there that the ultimate battle between human pride and God s grace takes place Human pride may win the battle, and then religion can and does become oneinstrument of human sin But if there the self does meet God and His grace, and so surrenders to something beyond its self interest, then Christian faith can prove to be the needed and rare release from human self concern


  8. says:

    I read this book over 30 years ago in college, I believe it was for an Intro to Poli Sci course It has always stayed with me, and I ve thought about it off and on through the years.Gilkey describes his life during WW II while imprisoned in a camp in China by the Japanese The camp was populated by over 1,000 people from all walks of life, all expats from various allied countries living and working in China when the war broke out The Japanese mostly left them to run and order the camp on thei I read this book over 30 years ago in college, I believe it was for an Intro to Poli Sci course It has always stayed with me, and I ve thought about it off and on through the years.Gilkey describes his life during WW II while imprisoned in a camp in China by the Japanese The camp was populated by over 1,000 people from all walks of life, all expats from various allied countries living and working in China when the war broke out The Japanese mostly left them to run and order the camp on their own The result was essentially an experiment of the social contract by which humans organize and maintain their societies This could have gone the Lord of the Flies route, but for the most part these civilized internees managed to build a stable society.A fascinating and thought provoking read It stays with you long after you read it


  9. says:

    This was a thought provoking account of life in a Chinese internment camp during WWII All were civilians and they were treated fairly benignly by the Japanese guards But 2000 diverse Westerners were thrown together and had to make life work in the camp with cramped space, few material goods, and not quite enough food The author watched how people reacted and was continually surprised by how creatively individuals could solve problems but also how selfishly people could behave Especially reli This was a thought provoking account of life in a Chinese internment camp during WWII All were civilians and they were treated fairly benignly by the Japanese guards But 2000 diverse Westerners were thrown together and had to make life work in the camp with cramped space, few material goods, and not quite enough food The author watched how people reacted and was continually surprised by how creatively individuals could solve problems but also how selfishly people could behave Especially religious people He used this 2.5 yr experience to rethink his views on human nature, spirituality, and community In the end, he became a theologian based on his experiences in the camp A fascinating account and his reasoning and connections to the wider world populations are well argued A worthwhile read, though dated, and a bit too prosy at times


  10. says:

    Gilkey explores the fields of politics, sociology, philosophy, etc., all within the confines of a Japanese camp His reasoning for the existence of God, as well as his examination of human nature, is powerful.4.7 5


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Shantung Compound [PDF / EPUB] Shantung Compound This vivid diary of life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II examines the moral challenges encountered in conditions of confinement and deprivation This vivid diary of life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II examines the moral challenges encountered in conditions of confinement and deprivation.