Cover Image: The Wuhan Lockdown

The Wuhan Lockdown

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Member Reviews

Covid finally caught up to me after two years of trying to avoid it. Fear crept into my mind when I saw two lines on my ART. This was quickly followed by a sense of relief. Relief that I no longer have to live in anxiety on when I will get it. Reading this while isolating really brings a whole new meaning to how Covid has affected all of us.

I am slowly losing my memory of what life was like before Covid. I cannot imagine leaving the house without feeling anxious or without a mask. Even as we slowly gain normalcy around us, it is clear how much Covid has taken a toll on us, mentally and physically. 

Although this book was fairly short, it takes us back to when it all started. Ground Zero, Wuhan. I remembered watching this on the news in the comfort of my own home thinking how horrible it must be for people in Wuhan. Never did it cross my mind that it would be a pandemic or that our lives were about to change.

Yang focuses on how the people of Wuhan coped with living in lockdown through the diary entries they kept. It is interesting to note how people were motivated to keep a diary in the first place. Yang also wrote about the social aspect and how they responded to these diary entries which was quite heartwarming to read. Yang also included how the government is able to restrict and censor what people are posting in order to maintain order and it is fascinating to know how society retaliate to that.

I love all the little diary entries that were presented here but I wished there were more of it to balance out all the research Yang has done to make it less dry and academic. I love how Yang emphasised the importance of social media in bringing people together during difficult times and it really shows how empathetic and resourceful people in Wuhan were during lockdown.

Thank you Netgalley and Columbia University Press for the arc.
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The title of the book made me curious and I've requested it,since this is recent events and so many things are still unknown about the outbreak of covid 19.
O have to point out that it's a difficult read,I understand the author is a sociologist so he did good at the numerical part or analitical,but poorly at the literature side of this book, it's a masive document of numbers and notions,so probably you need a trained eye to be able to break through.i appreciate the effort considering that do fat we have not so many materials about the events of 2019. But it is a difficult book so as for the content I'll give a 3 star rating
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Guobin Yang has written a very insightful and affecting account of the lives of the people caught in the extended lockdown of Wuhan, a city of 8 million people. Guobin sets the scene by giving some background on CCP party policies, social media usage in China and other germane matters. Most of the material in the book is gathered from social media diaries written by people directly involved in the lockdown, and the reactions to what they wrote.

One thing that struck me the most was that, in our own extended lockdown here in Australia, pretty much the same issues came up. The key difference was that we tended to blame the government and demand that "they" do something about it, whereas the Chinese people took it on themselves to solve problems such as getting essentials to locked-down people, caring for abandoned pets, providing professional mental health support, raising money to support the Wuhan people, and so on. Guobin describes how vital the role of social media was in accomplishing this, despite having to resort to some clever tactics to beat the official censors.

I got a lot out of this book, but felt that it ran out of steam at the end, as the author tried to draw some sociological conclusions from the various stories discussed, rather than just let them speak for themselves. The dry academic discussion that the book ends in weakens its impact and takes away from the stories of the Wuhan people.
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A metropolis with a population of about 11 million, Wuhan sits at the crossroads of China. It was here that in the last days of 2019, the first reports of a mysterious new form of pneumonia emerged. Before long, an abrupt and unprecedented lockdown was declared—the first of many such responses to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.

This book tells the dramatic story of the Wuhan lockdown in the voices of the city’s own people. Using a vast archive of more than 6,000 diaries, the sociologist Guobin Yang vividly depicts how the city coped during the crisis. He analyzes how the state managed—or mismanaged—the lockdown and explores how Wuhan’s residents responded by taking on increasingly active roles.
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This was a difficult book to get into. I had a hard time finishing it.  It was not what I was expecting, and maybe would be interesting for some people I just didn't love it.
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Should have been a really interesting experience of lockdown in China, with ordinary people's view to the fore. This was not the case, this is in many places the worse kind of dry academic study. I'm interested in people's experiences of this horrible time not Chinese Communist Party power structures.
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This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I thought this was going to illustrate life on the ground during the Wuhan lockdown as seen through online diaries of those who were there. I kept a journal during our lockdown myself so I was intrigued. It is actually an exhaustive examination of the history of activism in China and how the internet and social media have affected it, while providing a lot of cultural context and explanation. Most of this was very interesting. The context helped, as I am not familiar with Chinese culture. However, it was a bit too long and detailed. I found myself struggling to stay engaged. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
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This wasn’t quite the book I was hoping for or expecting. The first few chapters go into great depth about the history and background information about Chinese culture and politics that can be blamed for delay and censorship of information related to covid. While it was likely important info that may not be common knowledge, I did feel that it was a larger focus than needed. The middle chapters begin to share stories from the lockdown which have been documented in social media diaries, however it felt anecdotal, rather than personal accounts. I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first half, but struggled a bit to finish. Perhaps I had the wrong ideas going into reading this book, but it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. If you’re interested in learning about the events leading up to and surrounding the outbreak at the epicentre of the first cases of the pandemic, definitely give this book a shot! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read and review this book!
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I'm confused as to how someone who plainly states that they weren't anywhere in the vicinity of Wuhan (or China, for that matter) can poffer a supposed accurate exploration of the lockdown. The author relies on American individualist ideology to lambast the strict Chinese response to the Covid 19 pandemic, at one point equating volunteers in full body suits to enforcers of the cultural revolution. 

Maybe it's because I grew up in a country that espoused community-based thinking, but I couldn't help roll my eyes at the blatant intellectual dissonance displayed by the author. I understand the need to analyse Chinese societal evolution and how it was been shaped by the CCP, especially I the Xinping era, but the analysis is seemed with American ideology that considers anything community-based to be violence. I've never seen public health communication over loudspeakers being compared to literal violence.

However, this work had cogent moments of historical navigation and attempted to give a voice to those who lived through it, even thought those narratives were warped to fit a specific angle.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this arc.
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Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

	As I start typing this review, my city is still under a mask mandate, among other things.  To say this history of the Wuhan Lockdown  is still hitting a bit close would be an understatement.
	Yang’s overview and discussion of the Wuhan Lockdown focuses mostly on the societal and aspects of the lockdown – what were the various responses, how various aspects of society acted and so on.  There is also a quick overview of the Chinese government so those of us who are not experts will not get confused and can understand the context.  
	I particularly found the sections about the use of language and translations (as well as the manipulation  of how text appears, not just in terms of characters, but the overall presentation) to be absolutely fascinating, for it showed a variety of responses as well as how, in some cases, information or views were able to slip by censors.
	Yet it is a bit strange that in a book that makes a good deal about the diaries that Wuhan residents kept in various forms,  there aren’t more quotes from them.  Don’t get me wrong, Yang does cite from the various diaries and media, but there are sections, overly long sections where facts and descriptions are presented but by third person instead of first person quotes.  While it is clear the reason for this is the needed for brevity to cover the large amount of material, it also can make those sections lag a little.  Also sometimes there are too much that seems to be too much off topic, or too much time spent explaining things that could be dealt in a smoother and shorter way – for instance  in the discussion about nationalism, it feels like too much time is spent discussing the nationalism that occurred in countries like the UK or US whose mention is needed because of Chinese reaction to it, but the depth of detail seems to shift the focus for too long to those other countries (it also moves into a discussion about Chinese media, that while interesting, doesn’t really need to be that detailed). 
	However, sometimes those little factual details and the discussion surrounding them are needed.  An example of this would be when Yang discusses the international relief supplies that were sent to Wuhan.  Yang discusses the reaction of residents to the Japanese supplies that included messages.  In this case, it is possible to argue that Yang spends too much space on a detail, but he takes the time to present the detail in context for people to understand the importance.    It is this rather small detail that illustrates larger and more important points.
	Considering the largely simplified view of  what happened in Wuhan by the Western (and perhaps all non Chinese press), this book is a must read for those trying to understand and develop a knowledge about what happened during the start of the outbreak.  Yang does an excellent job relating the various day to day concerns of residents and the measures that were taken as well as reactions to those measures.  He presents a far more detailed and nuanced view than the US media ever did, allowing those of us would limited knowledge about China and the Chinese lockdown to have a greater and clearer understanding of what happened.
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A book titled 'The Wuhan Lockdown' can't slip unnoticed when the whole world is still affected by COVID-19. Knowledge about the origins of the virus and the official response to the first alarms by Chinese authorities combined with diaries of ordinary (and not ordinary) people; the book by Guobin Yang, the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, provides a detailed account for truth-seeking readers. The Professor examined more than 6,000 Wuhanese diaries on various Chinese social platforms, dissecting social conflicts and personal encrypted from censorship emotions to give a complete picture of what was happening in the locked city. The book goes far beyond the mere retelling of the diaries. It also singles out deeply rooted causes of the initial misinformation and mishandling of the first COVID cases.

The chronology in the book is not based on day-to-day principles. Instead, each chapter highlights one aspect of the lockdown from the sociological viewpoint: censorship and protests against it, xenophobia and nationalism inside and outside China, etc. Using his twenty-year experience in the research of Chinese cyberspace, the author goes into great detail about the popular cyberculture and its peculiarities, unfamiliar for foreigners. The author's meticulousness, however, turns into the book's main weakness.

The author squeezes into the book as many facts as possible. I would name the constant jumps from the personal level of the diaries to the general Chinese history and then to the current social circumstances rabbit holes. While moving through the levels, the author's writing style also changes, from informal and emotional, with rhetoric questions to a reader, to academic and formal. Multi-faceted research creates an eagle view of the situation, placing the pandemic into the bigger picture but complicates the reading process. For example, the author uses the Chinese term 'wolf warrior.' He explains the origins and connotations of the term, traces changes in the use of the word, names all political figures nicknamed 'wolf warriors,' and examines their behavior during the pandemic to show the reasons for public support.

A Chinese name on the book cover partly conditioned my choice. I haven't encountered a book on China that wouldn't have an apparent anti-Chinese character. So it was a surprise to find the author's same anti-Chinese stance at the beginning of the book. More surprising, throughout the book, there are several comparisons between the authoritarian Chinese regime and the US democracy in manipulating public opinions and handling the health care system's crisis during the pandemic; the comparison isn't in the US favor. At the end of the book, the author's anti-Chinese position looks solid and argumentive.

I'd highly recommend the book for its informativeness and thoroughness. The book covers not only the description of the Wuhan lockdown but modern China politics as well.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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