Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman” as Want to Read:
A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman (Light on China )

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  274 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Within the common destiny is the individual destiny. So it is that through the telling of one Chinese peasant woman's life, a vivid vision of Chinese history and culture is illuminated. Over the course of two years, Ida Pruitt—a bicultural social worker, writer, and contributor to Sino-American understanding—visited with Ning Lao T'ai-ta'i, three times a week for breakfast ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published June 1st 1945 by Stanford University Press (first published 1945)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Daughter of Han, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Daughter of Han

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 474)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nick Dupree
Mar 31, 2012 Nick Dupree rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A wonderful, insightful narrative of East Asia's tumultuous history, from the eyes and lips of an old Chinese woman.

History is, ultimately, the story of people and their relations, whether peaceful, characterized by the worst violence and gore, or the myriad of grays in between. The "Great Man" historians offer a lot of the peoples' story, through the words of the great leaders and their actions and reactions to the people and society they helped lead, and for that reason I'd never discount "Gr
...more
Briana
Apr 13, 2015 Briana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs, People interested in modern China
Shelves: school-reading
Very good book on the working class women.

Read it for a history class at school. The mood of this book is very much someone reading it to you, very similar to an oral story written down. Some of the sentences are structured awkwardly but that I believe comes from the translation into english, or T'ai-T'ai speaking in english. There are places where she jumps from topic to topic very quickly, but for the most part it is structured in major events such as her wedding or her moving towns.

One thing
...more
Carrie
Jun 01, 2008 Carrie rated it did not like it
half way through and couldn't finish. way too old, this lady is just babbling and if there was a plot i couldn't follow it.
Rita
1945 [Yale Univ Press], 1967 and after: Stanford
Subtitle: The autobiography of a Chinese working woman

Esp. meaningful to me because I knew Ida Pruitt in Philadelphia, she was close to 80 then. A very independent person, she knew what was important and what wasn't.

In 1972 or 1973 she invited James and me for lunch or dinner in her apartment near U Penn [and near the Ricketts, her life-long friends, China hands]. It was summer, as Mark was with us too. Ida had taken quite an interest in James aft
...more
Rebekah Lewis
An "autobiography" - this is the story of Ning L. T'Ai-T'ai told by Ida Pruitt as she heard her story over several meetings. Ning lived in the last days of China's Qing dynasty. Born with some of the worst luck, she makes the best of her surroundings and friends to overcome the troubles of an opiate addicted husband and the troubles he bought to her. Not really poor, not rich, Ning is an outlier of her time - a working class woman and a true revolutionary (though she would have never seen hersel ...more
Christian Patterson
May 01, 2014 Christian Patterson rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As literature, it's really dry. This is more like a history book on a very micro level. So you get a lot of good insights into late Qing Dynasty/Warlord Era/early modernizing China. But it isn't so great to read as a narrative
Jason Honeycutt
Aug 14, 2015 Jason Honeycutt rated it really liked it
One of those books that's alright, and then every now and again skims a passage of pure gold across placid surface of words. Overall ok, but an extremely fast read that gives insight from an average person's point of view during the era
Rebecca
Mar 03, 2014 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: school-books, china
This book is a very interesting look into the life of a woman in China at the turn of the century. If you are interested in Chinese history, especially from a female perspective, I definitely recommend this book. However, I didn't like the writing style. The author seems to have copied straight down what the woman told her. I think it could have used some editing and rearranging since the style was very anecdotal. This made it difficult to figure out times and dates, since she seemed to be jumpi ...more
Becca
Nov 01, 2013 Becca rated it really liked it
Shelves: chinese-studies
The narrative makes a lot more sense if you are familiar with the geography of where Ning lives and what is happening in China during this period. Ning grew up on a coastal town of China, in the age where foreigners (missionaries and some traders) were common sights. Most important, this really illustrates the debilitating impact opium addiction had on many families. The tale ends with Japanese bombing in the early 1900's.
Beth
Jun 05, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it
This autobiography gives more than a few insights into the life of a woman struggling to survive in a culture that is not accepting of opinions that vary from those of the government. She struggles, not because of who she is, but because of the people she chooses to associate with. I enjoyed stepping into the mind of this corageous woman and watching her slow ascension up the bittersweet mountain of triumph.
Heather
This book is better understood with knowledge of Chinese culture, otherwise it would not make for an interesting read. Also,it is a period piece and the whole of Chinese culture should not be based off of a single woman's story. I have read this book twice and found myself polarized by the poverty and strength of Nang each time.
Maureen
Nov 28, 2007 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in eastern culture and history
I found this as a really unique view into the life of a woman living through WWI and the beginnings of WWII in China. I knew little about the cultural history of this part of the world, so I learned a lot about the effects of foot binding, the introduction of Opium into their society, and the Japanese Occupation.
Lars
Nov 13, 2008 Lars rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college-books
Some ethnocentrism comes from this autobiography of a late nineteenth century working Chinese woman, including her marriage, troubles and hopes. Not only a good read for someone interested in the period itself, but for those looking for primary sources related to feminism or gender studies.
Allison
Apr 12, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my quest for more information on China, I read this autobiography. It was dictated by a Chinese woman to the wife of a preacher. It offers a lot of insight into daily life of the Chinese during the latter part of the 19th century, and illuminates some of the aftershocks of globalization.
Shane
Jul 30, 2015 Shane rated it really liked it
"We women knew nothing but to comb our hair and bind our feet and wait at home for our men." Excellent autobiography of Chinese peasant woman Lao T'ai-t'ai who lived during the transition from the Qing Dynasty into the Republic of China.
Gina
Apr 17, 2008 Gina rated it it was ok
this book started out pretty good... a lot of interesting stories that really grabbed you in... but towards the end it got pretty dry and boring (i actually didn't even read the last like 20 pages)
Joshua Deaver
Aug 02, 2014 Joshua Deaver rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's not often that you view the life and times of the 'small' people. This was a great look at life and times. It is extremely tough to get a book out of the East Asian powers that is true to form.
Neal Adolph
A fascinating oral history of a Chinese woman struggling with a rapidly changing China and rapidly changing life. Heartbreaking and heartbuilding.
Rachel
Dec 17, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic. I couldn't put it down. It was nice reading about a China no one in our lifetime got to see.
Kat
Jun 17, 2007 Kat rated it liked it
Shelves: class
Good, if you're looking for a book describing the daily life of regular folk.

Similar feel to The Good Earth.
AlyaziaMKY
May 25, 2013 AlyaziaMKY rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english
Indeed a period piece of Chinese history. A hardship and struggle of a mother to provide for her children.
Meagan
May 22, 2009 Meagan rated it really liked it
A good one for understanding Chinese culture and also the bonds between women in that culture.
tata
Mar 27, 2012 tata rated it really liked it
Shelves: uofl
Fascinating look into Chinese culture from a woman's perspective.
Angie Solvie
Mar 06, 2009 Angie Solvie rated it really liked it
This is an incredible book
Emma
Oct 01, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it
Super interesting
Heidi
Jul 22, 2009 Heidi rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read!
defne
defne marked it as to-read
Sep 22, 2016
BookDB
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2016
Troon
Troon rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2016
Melissa Donaghue
Melissa Donaghue rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 15 16 next »
  • Son of the Revolution
  • The Bitter Sea: Coming of Age in a China Before Mao
  • The Three-Inch Golden Lotus: A Novel on Foot Binding
  • Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-Hsi
  • Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China
  • Coming Home Crazy: An Alphabet of China Essays
  • Family
  • Spider Eaters
  • Chinese Propaganda Posters: From the Collection of Michael Wolf
  • Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol 1: From Earliest Times to 1600
  • Farewell My Concubine
  • A Leaf in the Bitter Wind: A Memoir
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas
  • Iron and Silk
  • Letter from Peking
  • Showdown at Gucci Gulch
  • Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde (World Landmark Books, W-12)
  • Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing

Other Books in the Series

Light on China (1 - 10 of 36 books)
  • When serfs stood up in Tibet (Modern China series)
  • China Shakes the World
  • Great Road
  • Unknown War: North China 1937 - 1945
  • Ti-Ping Tien-Kwoh: The History of the Ti-Ping Revolution
  • Chinese Destinies: Sketches of Present-Day China (China studies)
  • Good Deeds & Gunboats: Two Centuries of American-Chinese Encounters
  • A China Childhood
  • First ACT in China: The Story of the Sian Mutiny
  • Battle Hymn Of China

Share This Book



“My father told us stories about our ancestors and about the city and how we should act. He told us that the four sins are wine, women, wealth, and wrath.” 0 likes
More quotes…