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of a Novel
William Arnold’s China Gate is the epic story of postwar Taiwan as experienced by a large cast of American and Asian characters...
...More specifically, it follows an American high school fraternity that develops into a powerful criminal gang in the Vietnam War and a major transnational corporation of the New Asia in its aftermath.
It grew out of the author’s high school years spent in Taiwan in the early 1960s, on the brink of the Vietnam War.
“China Gate” is a term that was once used for the Island of Taiwan, as an expression of faith that it would one day be the base for the exiled Nationalist Chinese to retake the fallen Mainland...
...and it was the name of the yearbook of the Taipei American School, whose Class of 1963 through the tumultuous events of the ’60s and ’70s provided the inspiration for much of the novel’s drama.
Written in many drafts over nearly twenty years, the manuscript was bought by the Ballantine division of Random House in 1982 and its hardback edition was chosen to inaugurate the publisher’s new Villard imprint.
China Gate was both critically acclaimed and a major national bestseller.
"A RIP-SNORTING SAGA...ARNOLD PROVIDES THE SEX AND VIOLENCE...HE CONSTRUCTS HIS PLOT WELL!"
THE PACE NEVER SLACKENS... EXTREMELY SUSPENSEFUL ND FILLED WITH ACTION AND INTRIGUE... A WELL-WRITTEN, EXCITING NOVEL!"
--Magazine and Bookseller
"THE NOVEL IS A SUCCESS... CHINA GATE POWERS ALONG!
--New York Times Book Review
"THE STORY IS FASCINATING...GRIPPING READING!"
It was also highly controversial, denounced from both the left and the right as being an apologia for the opposing side’s position on the Two Chinas issue.
Both Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos and Japanese Marxist historian Yoshihiko Amino named it their “favorite” American novel set in Asia.
The book was officially banned in both Taiwan and Mainland China.
It went through many printings and numerous English-language and foreign editions.
The film rights to China Gate were bought by A-list producer Charles Roven and were subsequently owned by TriStar, 20th Century-Fox, Carolco Pictures and the rock star Prince.
More than thirty name screenwriters have been commissioned to adapt the book in the numerous attempts to make the film over a period of three decades, including one by Oscar-winner Ron Bass.
A dozen major stars have, at one time or another, been connected to the project, including Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Chow Yun-Fat and Kiefer Sutherland.
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But the vocal opposition and threats of economic reprisals from both the Taiwan and Mainland Chinese governments has caused the plug to be pulled from nearly a dozen attempts to mske the film in various stages of pre-production.
And despite the ongoing liberal winds blowing on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, the novel itself has also continued to be strictly banned in both Chinas.
Even so, a widely circulated pirated-edition from Taiwan and a 2015 e-book version have continued to give it an enduring underground cache and it stands as the best-read Asian underworld saga of all time.
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