Remembering China from Taiwan by Mahlon Meyer HKU Press In the late 1980s, Ko Jen-tao resigned from his job as a senior police officer in Taipei so that he could go to Nanjing and visit the elderly mother he had not seen for 40 years. En route, at Guangzhou airport, police removed everything from his suitcase, even his dental floss. But they had not reached his wallet with US$10,000 in cash inside when he was allowed to board the plane after saying he was going to see his mother. He bought four television sets, three video players and four video cameras for his family. This is one of the many poignant stories in Remembering China from Taiwan, written by Mahlon Meyer. A lecturer in Chinese history at the University of Washington and a Mandarin speaker, Meyer describes in great detail several mainland families who moved to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. 'Some of them I have known for 25 years and I have lived through many of their (and my) major life events with them,' he writes. The event was a trauma for those who left and those who stayed behind. Those who managed to escape to Taiwan left behind most of their family, their history and their heritage. Those who stayed behind were punished by the new government for having a relative on the island controlled by the 'enemy' - at best, they could not be promoted at work, at worst they had their assets confiscated and were banished to the countryside for decades. Meyer's book tells the story through the voices of those in Taiwan. Like Ko, they had to wait 40 years for the opportunity to see their lost families again. Often it did not turn out well. To help their relatives and save face, they gave money and gifts. Ko could afford it but many could not; they had to borrow heavily and ruined their lives. 'The old soldiers or civil servants start bringing back less and less each visit ... and their relatives start to resent them. The mainlanders from Taiwan develop resentments too. Some of them end up having arguments and even break off relations,' is how one of his interviewees describes it. These arguments often have to do with money and how it was used. Those on the mainland expect their Taiwan relatives to bring money - but their living standards have improved and their relatives may actually be worse off than they. One woman brings her elderly father from the mainland to live with her in Taiwan. He has been traumatised by his treatment at the hands of the communists. He spends most of his time staring at the television but cannot adapt to the new life. 'He stopped talking to me and my sister,' his daughter says. 'He watched television but I knew he could not understand the shows. They were so different to what was on in China, even though the language was the same, or almost the same. He spent his last years in loneliness.' It is a book full of tragedy and pathos, told with painstaking detail. Even 63 years on, the scars of 'liberation' have not healed.