Formosa Betrayed is a detailed, impassioned account of Chinese Nationalist (KMT) misrule that remains the most important English-language book ever written about Taiwan.
Author George H. Kerr lived in Taiwan in the late 1930s, when the island was a colony of Japan. During the war, he worked for the U.S. Navy as a Taiwan expert. From 1945 to 1947, Kerr served as vice consul of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Taipei, where he was an eyewitness to the February 28 Massacre and the subsequent mass arrests and executions.
As well as chronicling KMT repression during the early years of the White Terror, Kerr documents widespread corruption, showing how the island was systematically looted. The “betrayed” in the title refers not only to the crushing disappointment Taiwanese felt when they realized KMT rule was worse than that of the Japanese but also to the culpability of the American government. The United States was in large part responsible for handing Taiwan over to the Nationalists and helping them maintain their grip on power.
Formosa Betrayed has served as a foundational text for generations of Taiwanese democracy and independence activists. It had an explosive effect among overseas Taiwanese students; for many, the book was their first encounter in print with their country’s dark, forbidden history. A 1974 Chinese-language translation increased its impact still more. It is a powerful classic that has withstood the test of time, a must-read book that will change the way you look at Taiwan.