“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Formosa Calling: An Eyewitness Account of the February 28th, 1947 Incident

Posted: April 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

The excellent Camphor Press in Taiwan has just published Formosa Calling in both e-book and paperback…..an account of the horrific events that lay undisturbed in a trunk in New Zealand for fifty years before being published in 1998…

Recently occupied by the Nationalist Chinese regime, Taiwan in early 1947 was a powder keg. Anger at the corrupt misrule of the new government erupted into protests and riots, which quickly became an island-wide uprising. The response from the Nationalists was brutal and overwhelming – a weeks-long massacre in which local leaders and intellectuals were systematically slaughtered. Estimates of the dead range from ten thousand to thirty thousand. The killings became known as the “228 Massacre”, the “228 Incident”, or simply “228”, after the date of the first riots (February 28).

Allan J. Shackleton was a New Zealand officer with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration assigned to in Taiwan at the time. His eyewitness account of the massacre is an important piece in understanding modern Taiwan’s founding tragedy. Shackleton tried for years to get Formosa Calling published, but it was deemed too politically sensitive during the Cold War when “Free China” was an ally of the Western world. Finally, after Taiwan’s first democratic presidential election, a Taiwanese-American publisher approached Shackleton’s son to publish the book, and it first appeared in 1998, forty years after it was written.

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