Reviews

Freedom: How we lose it and how we fight back, by Evan Fowler, Nathan Law

splitzwang's review

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informative medium-paced

3.5

aeb123's review

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emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective fast-paced

5.0

chanelson's review

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emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced

4.0

aoifey's review

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emotional informative inspiring reflective sad medium-paced

4.0

edwina's review

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5.0

A poignant and thought provoking book by Nathan Law which is essentially a love letter to his home in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong he believes it can be. In discussing freedom and what it means to be free whilst battling against authoritarianism and being an activist, Law concisely does this by offering up nuggets of questions to readers about the extent to which our democratic societies have the ability to uphold our freedoms under the threat of authoritarian regimes like the CCP who rule by law. This is incredibly detailed, insightful, jam-packed with memorable lines that I know will stay with me for a while. It is an impressive, eye-opening and touching read to those who believe in hope, change and the incredibly fearlessness and resilience of the pro-democracy movement in HK especially during 2019-20 and of course, to Nathan who writes this as he remains in exile in the UK. A personal experience for him, is a lesson for us all. It is highly emotive and Law adds his thoughts on authoritarianism and how we can confront this as a collective. In saying that, it is a reminder for us to never take our freedoms for granted and to continue to uphold the freedoms we value and hold close to our hearts as the book explores the ways in which at once a free and open society like Hong Kong, has had their own freedoms eroding.

claudsreads's review

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4.0

i’ll review this book on what it set out to do: provide a primer on democratic values/freedom within the hk context and a warning to the “free” world. this isn’t intended for hong kongers who were involved/kept up with political events (there’ll be another book coming out for us <3), but i still had so many takeaways from this, mainly the role of student unions during occupy and nathan’s love for home that keeps his activism sustainable.

the best thing about this book is that it makes ~ freedom ~ a less elusive concept and the whole china question more approachable. it is a great piece of rhetoric; there are many nuances that are very well articulated i.e. a lot of important ground that isn’t covered in mainstream journalism, and something poli/phil academia still struggles a lot with. i think the final chapter deserves its own shout out (i’d rate it a 5/5) because it is a passionate, genuine, and grounded call for action. after a bleak chapter on disinformation and truth in authoritarian regimes, the final chapter cuts straight to the chase on the urgency of the china question, exposes the CCP’s sinister subversion of democratic lingo, gives us reasons to be hopeful for the future (despite the massive shit we’re in rn) and steps we can take to regain control of our civil liberties, wherever we are in the world.

this is not an academic text, so i don’t want to hold it to the same standards. however, the romanisation and footnotes in particular are inconsistent — what deserves a footnote, and will this affect the integrity of the book as facts get lost/muddled over time? who decides what words/expressions are romanised in pinyin with tones, pinyin without tones, and when are characters accompanied by trad/simplified chinese? i also think that the book tries to give too much context, yet fails to give enough; i find his account overly sympathetic to the role of the colonial administration during the pre-1997 era (e.g. they were ‘different’ to other colonial admins + really tried to give hkers the democratic freedoms they wanted after 1997, but were just unable to negotiate a good deal. it was the hkers who should have rallied harder for better negotiations, but 1c2s is what it is).

i wonder how this book will stand the test of time; will it be banned? where? will people dispute nathan’s version of events? how will collective memory of the last three years look like, among those who stayed and among the diaspora? how will the hong kong identity evolve under authoritarian rule? the fact that this book is likely to resonate a lot young hkers, but is not promoted even by the most openly pro-democracy indie booksellers (for reasons we know and understand) is especially troubling. anyway. a lot of thoughts still thinking gayau nathan <3

sebby_reads's review

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hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

4.25

Freedom: How we lose it and how we fight back is written by Nathan Law, one of the student leaders in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement 2014. The book chronicled how he became an activist and his experiences as a politician as well as the threats of authoritarian acts towards HK and countries across the world by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The book is more than Nathan’s involvement in educational and political reforms. It is about Hong Kong’s continuous fight against CCP. After the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the political landscape has been changed significantly. Several pro-Beijing groups rooting in HK and taking the important seats. Years later, there were multiple violations of human rights done by HK government directed by CCP. HK’s political system got worsen and Hongkongners’ right for freedom is worryingly deteriorating.

In his book, Nathan emphasised more on the significance of freedom and how we should preserve it before it’s too late. And when it is endangered, why we must voice out and how we should fight for our freedom. He pointed out the rise of totalitarian governments in other countries and the threatening consequences encountered by nations across the globe. He discussed about the importance of rule of law and also to be aware of disinformation and division. He highlighted to believe in people and the power of change so that people can continue the resistance. CCP has fabricated lies that Nathan been funded or trained by the western countries. Leaving Hong Kong for safety isn’t betrayal. Activism works in various forms and regardless of your geographical location, what matters is to continue fighting for the cause you believe in. Works can be done more efficiently in safe and free environment.

This is the third book I read about Hong Kong Protests. Last year, I read Unfree Speech by Joshua Wong, Nathan’s fellow activist and City on Fire by Antony Dapiran. Both books talked about the history of Hong Kong and its unhealthy relationship with CCP and how the protests began. Nathan wrote this book with his friend Evan Fowler, also a Hong Kong native. Since it is about the same events in HK, some similarities can be found in all three books. Regardless, it is an important read as it helps you understand not just about Hong Kong and its sociopolitical issues, also about the rise of authoritarianism and its global threat. Equally, it is insightful and encouraging, as well. Their detailed and personal stories are heart-rending and at the same time, empowering.
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Nathan Law was born into a working-class family who were initially from Shenzhen, China. When he was six years old, the family moved to HK where his father worked. He was a moderate student at school and not very involved in politics since the family was apolitical. When he was in secondary school, he learnt about the 1989. Tiananmen Square Massacre. Attending the annual vigil to commemorate the event was his first peaceful resistance. In his university, he joined Student Unions and later became committee member of Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKSF).

Nathan actively involved in 2014 Umbrella Movement and became one of the prominent student leaders fighting for HK’s electoral reform against Beijing Government. In 2016, he and other student leaders founded a new political party Demosistō. At the age of 23, he became the youngest-ever elected person to become a HK legislator. However, he and three other pro-democracy legislators were disqualified from the Legislative Council due to oath taking controversy,. In 2017, Nathan was jailed for his involvement in occupying Civic Square during 2014 protest. Upon his release, he tirelessly fought for the rights and safety for people of HK. When the new security law enacted by Beijing in mid 2020 threatened his life and his party leaders, he fled HK. In April 2021 he announced that he has been granted asylum in the UK. He continued to voice for Hong Kong and the future of Hongkongners.

rstock's review

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challenging emotional

5.0

lydiastroud's review

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emotional informative reflective medium-paced

4.5

heaven29's review

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inspiring

5.0

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