This is a fascinating history of 20th century China through the lives of three women, Jung Chang, her mother, and her grandmother. Of course it only tells their perspectives, but all are glimpses of China I have never seen so clearly. If I had picked up a history book of this era, I would have probably put it down, too frustrated by the Communist regime to continue. Through this narration, I cared about what happened to Jung Chang's family and the country and couldn't put it down (I listened to the audible version and read when sitting down.).
Briefly, Chang's grandmother, sold as a concubine, lives through the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the Kuomintang, Mao's takeover of Manchuria, and follows the lives of her daughter and grandchildren. Her mother is raised on Mao's schools and propaganda and rises through the ranks of the Communist system with her husband, later to be renounced in the Cultural Revolution. Chang and her siblings struggle to learn and thrive during the Cultural Revolution, always challenging.
Jung Chang's writing is very straightforward (as is the narration), which is absolutely appropriate for this epic story already so full of extreme events and emotions. Lyricism is not needed and extra description would have made this book too long. Despite the length of this book (562 pages), there was never a sense of it being slow or too long. The narration by Joy Osmanski also generally moved swiftly and clearly (at 1.25 speed).
I just read this incredible history of China during the past century. The adjectives of "interesting" and "amazing" are so undeserving of this saga of these women mired in the access to power by Mao, and the horrific abuse of power by this man. It gave me more insight into the lives and history of this country than I've been able to find in any other book. It is a must-read for those who wish to understand China's past.
From turn of the century China through the 1980's Chang traces 3 generations of women. Her grandmother born in 1907 was a concubine as a young girl, her mother was a Communist party member and official, and she was a member of the Red Guards in the
late 1960's. China’s evolution from a feudal society to present day told through the experiences of one family brings to life the incredible hardships and successes that have shaped the country. An informative read for anyone interested in recent Chinese history.
This is a great book. It is both a very interesting story and a timely account of what can happen when an all powerful government takes over the lives of a people. As China emerges as a world power this should be required reading for Americans. While it only covers the period through the Cultural Revolution (1970's), the same party and government is in power today as was then. It will do us well to never forget this.
A very interesting story. It really made me appreciate the freedom we enjoy here in Canada. If you're looking for a first-hand account of recent Chinese history this is a great book to turn to.
Gripping story of 3 generations of women during the Mao era. A good read.
A very interesting look at China's history ad told through the experiences of one family. Unfortunately the author's writing is very dry so it feels like you are plodding through some terrible chore. I am not disappointed that I read the book but I'd rather go to the dentist than read it again.
The history of China during the Mao era
A fascinating look at three generations of Chinese women, from Chang's grandmother with bound feet who was a warlord's concubine; her mother, who was an active Communist but suffered under the Cultural Revolution, to the author herself, who chronicles her family's survival through a century of disaster.
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