"At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China."
"Blending the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history, Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold. The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao's impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.
Jung Chang describes the life of her grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother's struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents' experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a "barefoot doctor," a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving -- and ultimately uplifting -- detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history."
While I've read about China in bits and pieces in fiction, this is the first comprehensive nonfiction book I read on China's history in the twentieth century as told through a family's harrowing ordeal. What struck me the most is how the shifting political alliances meant that anyone could be an "enemy" at any time. I also came to admire Jung's parents for sticking to their principles even when it meant exile and harsh punishment.
Date read: 3/8/2008
Book #: 14
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Nonfiction: History/Biography/Autobiography
Publisher: Anchor Books
# of Pages: 508
Binding: Trade Paperback