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Friday, March 28, 2008

Wild Swans...Review

About the book:
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.

I didn't particularly enjoy this book. I know that I'm in a minority in that opinion though. It's not an easy book to read. Nor is it a fast read. Slow books frustrate me. It plods along, but is fascinating and unsettling. It was interesting to me to see the changes that occurred in China in just a few short generations.

Historically it's fascinating and follows the lives of a woman and her mother and grandmother through the reign and fall of warlords, the Japanese occupation, and the rise of Communism and Chairman Mao. Jung Chang paints a beautiful portrait of not only her mother and grandmother, but her father and grandfather. She really captures the horrors of Communism and Mao and the control exerted on the people.

But, more than anything, it's heartbreakingly sad. It's a well-written, interesting book. I just didn't like it.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/08

* * 
2/5 Stars

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