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N Yet there he and Jade and the author s mother find some happiness despite the fact that the doctor is penniless and must start at the bottom And all of the above in the book s first 44 pages Next we learn of the horrors committed during the Second Sino Japanese War the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in which Jinzhou is located Dr Mrs Xia are able to save a friend from the Japanese by befriending the prison arroter Dong who promises them not to strangle the man fatally only partially so he ll look dead enough to be transported to the foul smelling communal rave at the end of town There the Xias extract him from a tangle of bodies he s still breathing take him home and nurse him back to health This man Han Chen later oes to work for Kuomintang intelligence where he procures a membership ID for Mrs Xia s son which allows him to avoid military service and keep working in the doctor s medicine shop where he s most needed He even ets Dong a job After the war there were so many saved by Dong from the Japanese reaper in this way that survivors pooled their monies and bought the former executioner a little house for his retirement Heroism takes strange formsThe Japanese were defeated in 1945 and the second and concluding portion of the Chinese Civil War resumed The author s mother now turns second and concluding portion of the Chinese Civil War resumed The author s mother now turns to be this capable community organizer on the Communist side She distributes propaganda The Nationalist bigwigs are seen as corrupt and lacking discipline The Communists were promising the populace things they would never deliver on such as the retention of personal property In Jinzhou the author says the Communists were perceived as innovators who would Make The Lives Of The the lives of the better Another sneaky thing the Communists did while the Nationalists were busy fighting the Japanese they intensified their propaganda and brought the people over to their side Anyway as you may know neither side comes out smelling like a roseNeed to finish Wild Swans may well be the most depressing book I ve ever read Don t let that keep you from iving it a try though for by some strange mechanism it also ranks among the most uplifting books I ve read chronicling as it does a courage resilience and will to survive which are nothing short of riveting I could sum the book up by saying it s the reatest ode to courage and resilience ever written or that it s one of those rare books which make you despair of humanity and then o a long way towards restoring your faith in it but no I m not Verdammt verliebt going to leave it at that I moing to do this book justice because damn it it deserves itFor those of you who missed the hype back in the early 1990s Wild Swans is the true history of three The Way Between the Worlds (The View from the Mirror, generations of women living through the horrible nightmare that is modern Chinese history One is the author herself now a naturalised British citizen The second is her mother an earnest Communist who raised a large family at a time which was extremely bad for family life The third is herrandmother who was married off as a concubine to a warlord as a irl and lived to see her family suffer for this unfortunate connection again and again Using these three extraordinary lives as her main focus Jung Chang tells the history of China s even extraordinary twentieth century from the late ing Dynasty in the first decade of the century to the relatively free 1980s a period comprising the Republican era the battle between the Kwomintang and the Communists the to the relatively free 1980s a period comprising the Republican era the battle between the Kwomintang and the Communists the Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution It s ripping stuff even for those who know their Chinese history and it blew me away when I first read it halfway through my Chinese degree making me wond. In the early days of Mao's revolution and rose like her husband to a prominent position in the Communist Party before being denounced during the Cultural Revolution Chang herself marched worked and breathed for Mao until doubt crept in over the excesses of his policies and purges Born just a few decades apart their lives overlap with the end of the ,
Wild Swans is a candid and HARROWING ACCOUNT OF THREE CHINESE account of remarkable Chinese The Good and Beautiful God grandmother mother and daughter but alsoives us a very ood picture of what China was like from the turn of the Century to the 1980 sWe learn about the ancient culture of the Chinese which included much that was beautiful and some that seems cruel We learn of the hope beautiful and some that seems cruel We learn of the hope so many Chinese that the overthrow of the Kuomintang would lead to a just social order but how it soon became clear that the worst excesses of the Kuomintang and those of Imperial China before that paled into insignificance compared to the hell on earth created by Mao s Chinese Communist PartyOne is left aghast that a system can d At a conference dinner some time in the mid 90s I found myself sitting next to this extremely impressive Chinese woman researcher bunch of freuently cited publications well read in three languages manages to look orgeous as well I cast around for something to sayI liked that Wild Swans book I hazarded Do you know itShe looked at me scornfully Any Chinese woman could have written that she replied There are a hundred million stories just like itI must admit I had a little trouble believing her But would Professor Fung have lied to me That seems even less plausible How far could Chinese patriarchy o in the early twentieth century to make the lives of women sheer humiliation and misery Here in Wild Swans we have that uestion tidily answered This is a tale of the lives of three enerations of Chinese women the author her mother and her The Horse in Celtic Culture grandmother Author Jung Chang srandmother had her feet bound a hideously painful process undertaken solely so that some man might one day find her lustworthy enough to take as a concubine The years long process of foot binding of smashing the toes with a rock and binding them under the sole of the foot is thoroughly explained Author Chang s randmother was thus encrippled and eventually traded off to a eneral of one of the factions vying for control of the country in 1920 All this so her wretch of a Every Boys Dream greatrandfather Yang could raise his own material status buy land and accumulate concubines I have read of stories purdah the seraglio and Morman four wiving but never have I come across such a harrowing description of the degradation of women that I have found here Mind numbing are the cruel stratagems of the concubines back at the family home to degrade Yang s first wife Chang s reat randmother and freeze her out of her own home I was aware of this social structure before through works by the writers Jonathan Spence Anchee Min Nien Cheng Harry Wu and others but never have I had such a vivid picture of how the first wifeconcubine pecking order played out in the daily life of a Chinese family as I ve had here It is beyond belief Then in 1930 released from her bond of concubinage on the death of the A Succession of Bad Days general therandmother whose name Yu fang translates as jade fragrant flowers falls in love with a Manchu doctor who is determined to marry her as his wife This sends his large family into conniptions since it means Jade will have to be accorded reverence in line with the doctor s strict Manchu standards of filial respect And at 65 he is almost three times her age Perhaps if it weren t for his wealth there would be less of a fuss but a new wife has implications for the eventual distribution of his estate s assets In protest one of his sons shoots himself dead This act of reed for the family is worried only about its own dispossession nothing drives Dr Xia to divide his possessions among his sons and move to a shack on the outskirts of Jinzhou which is a cholera epidemic waiting to happe. An alternative cover for this ISBN can be found hereIn Wild Swans Jung Chang recounts the evocative unsettling and insistently ripping story of how three enerations of women in her family fared in the political maelstrom of China during the 20th century Chang's randmother was a warlord's concubine Her ently raised mother struggled with hardships. Wild Swans Three Daughters of China

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Er for the first time but not the last whether I really wanted to devote the rest of my life to China It took me two years to decide that I did not but this book whose memory has always stayed with me played a large part in that decision To this day I vividly remember the horror I experienced when I read the long section about the Cultural Revolution It brought alive the terror of that particular episode of Chinese history long section about the Cultural Revolution It brought alive the terror of that particular episode of Chinese history than any other book I d read and it shocked me to my core While Wild Swans is largely about the three women mentioned above the most interesting person in the book I hesitate to call him a character as he was obviously a very real person is the author s father a high ranking cadre who enuinely believed in the Communist ideals and strove all his life to implement them in daily life At first HE IS INFURIATING IN HIS REFUSAL TO GRANT HIS is infuriating in his refusal to The Beast House / After Midnight grant his and children the privileges to which they are entitled as his relatives on therounds that to do so would amount to nepotism and corruption which is precisely what the Communists are supposed to be trying to eradicate but as the story progresses you realise that there is something uite heroic about Mr Chang that he is in his daughter s words a moral man living in a land that is a moral void By the time the Cultural Revolution rolls around the corner you feel such admiration for him that you d personally drag him away from the humiliations and beatings he receives for sticking to his Off Leash (Freelance Familiars Book 1) guns if you could to prevent him having to experience that loss of faith and dreams which is bound to follow His is a tragedy with a capital T and it s harrowing one of the most painful things I ve read and then someYet for all the personal struggles described in the book and there are many of them the main struggling character of Wild Swans is China itself Chang does areat job chronicling what JG Ballard called the brain death of a nation sharing historical facts in a way non sinologists will understand and showing the cruelty and mercilessness inherent in the Chinese or should that be humanity in eneral She does a marvellous job describing the panic and Unpredictability Of The Early Cultural Revolution When Absolutely Everybody Could of the early Cultural Revolution when absolutely everybody could denounced at the drop of a hat and when pettiness and lust for power reigned Along the road she provides fascinating insights into Mao Zedong s selfishness and megalomania and into the hypocrisy and incongruity of the movements he set in motion which brutalised human relationships like nothing else ever has And all these atrocities she juxtaposes with the integrity and courage of her parents and randmother who The Life You Save get through it all with some hope and optimism left intact It s a riveting story and Chang tells it wellIf I have any complaints about Wild Swans they concern the first few chapters and the romanisation of names The early parts of the book which deal with events the author did not witness herself feel a bit aloof and lifeless Itets better once Chang starts telling about her parents and once she reaches the part of the story to which she herself was privy the Great Leap Forward the Cultural Revolution the book becomes uite unputdownable As for the romanisation I wish the publisher had hired an editor skilled in Pinyin as Chang s spelling of Chinese names is all over the place something non sinologists won t notice but which is an eyesore to me These are minor flaws though which hardly detract from the overall uality of the book Wild Swans is an intensely compelling read moving unsettling and unforgettable It should be compulsory reading for everyone remotely interested in China or in history in eneral. Arlords' regime and overthrow of the Japanese occupation violent struggles between the Kuomintang and the Communists to carve up China and most poignant for the author the vicious cycle of purges orchestrated by Chairman Mao that discredited and crushed millions of people including her parentsIncludes black and white photographsFamily treeChronologyM. .