My Fight for a New Taiwan

One Woman's Journey from Prison to Power

Hsiu-lien Lu and Ashley Esarey
Foreword by Jerome A. Cohen

  • Published: 2014. Paperback March 2016
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 344 pp., 28 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Lu Hsiu-lien's journey is the story of Taiwan. Through her successive drives for gender equality, human rights, political reform, Taiwan independence, and, currently, environmental protection, Lu has played a key role in Taiwan's evolution from dictatorship to democracy. The election in 2000 of Democratic Progressive Party leader Chen Shui-bian to the presidency, with Lu as his vice president, ended more than fifty years of rule by the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party).

Taiwan's painful struggle for democratization is dramatized here in the life of Lu, a feminist leader and pro-democracy advocate who was imprisoned for more than five years in the 1980s. Unlike such famous Asian women politicians as Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, India's Indira Gandhi, and Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto, Lu Hsiu-lien grew up in a family without political connections. Her impoverished parents twice attempted to give her away for adoption, and as an adult she survived cancer and imprisonment, later achieving success as an elected politician-the first self-made woman to serve with such prominence in Asia.

My Fight for a New Taiwan's rich narrative gives readers an insider's perspective on Taiwan's unique blend of Chinese and indigenous culture and recent social transformation.
Lu Hsiu-lien (Annette Lu) is a graduate of National Taiwan University, the University of Illinois, and Harvard Law School. She was vice president of the Republic of China from 2000 to 2008 and currently is president of Green 21 Taiwan Alliance. Ashley Esarey, a former journalist, held the An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University and currently is visiting assistant professor of political science and East Asian studies at the University of Alberta.

"It is rare to read a political memoir that is so self-aware and candid, and where the subject becomes such a striking individual to the reader. Lu's immense energy, organizing skills, and ability to twist arms come across very clearly. . . . [My Fight for a New Taiwan is] not only about Lu's gaining high office in a democracy, but also about how she mightily helped to found that democracy."
-Ross Terrill, author of Mao: A Biography; The New Chinese Emperor; and Madame Mao: The White-Boned Demon

"This is a highly personal, powerful, and at times moving self-portrait by a remarkable woman whose sheer personality, determination, and courage transformed her from the daughter of a shopkeeper in Taoyuan County to the first female elected vice president of Taiwan."
-Steve Tsang, University of Nottingham

Map of Taiwan
1. Dreams Come True
2. Taiwanese Daughter
3. Lifting Half the Sky
4. A Moth Flying Towards Flame
5. Human Rights Riot
6. Patriotism Imprisoned
7. In Search of Destiny
8. Knocking at the Gate of the UN
9. Political Trash
10. The Glorious Revolution
Glossary of Names

"An engrossing story of a life devoted to Taiwan. . . . A remarkable journey."
-Enru Lin, Taipei Times

"Lu's life story mirrors the story of Taiwan as a country. Both are trying to find their way in the world and break free - one from limiting gender expectations, the other from mainland China. . . . My Fight for a New Taiwan had me cheering on [Lu] and her compatriots as they fought for the country they loved so much."
-Samantha Pak, Northwest Asian Weekly

"An enjoyable narrative that captures how education and other broadening opportunities enabled the career and prominence of a smart and ambitious woman. . . . Lu's experiences highlight the fragmentation and oppressiveness of Taiwan's transitions, even as they offer hope that other Asian states might move further down the path of becoming more open societies."
-Madeline Hsu, H-Asia (H-Net)

"A welcome reminder of what is possible when political leaders - government officials and antigovernment activists alike - set aside their own interests and follow the will of the people they claim to serve. . . . Lu's engaging voice and extraordinary candor make [this] a surprising and inspiring read."
-Shelley Rigger, Foreign Affairs

"[An] extraordinary record of late twentieth-century Taiwan history seen through the eyes of one of its victims, throwing valuable light on the atrocities that the present governing party might prefer [were] forgotten. . . . [The] narrative is told with disarming fluency and a rapidity that makes for breathless reading. . . . Combines historical record with a moving narrative of survival and dedication to the long-suffering people of Taiwan."
-Michael Rand Hoare, China Quarterly, The