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Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  119 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This “gripping and poignant memoir” (New York Times Book Review) draws us into the intersections of everyday life and Communist power from the first days of “Liberation” in 1949 through the post-Mao era. The son of a professional family, Kang Zhengguo is a free spirit, drawn to literature. In Mao’s China, these innocuous circumstances expose him at age twenty to a fierce s ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published June 4th 2007)
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Aug 21, 2007 Yulia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
is it wrong to appreciate a memoir for what one learns about a time and place? i can't say kang zhengghuo was a sympathetic narrator, but then, should i congratulate him for writing so honestly, however coldly, about a loveless marriage? as much as i value my identity and freedom of expression, he does strike me as an unusually selfish egotist. america is his homeland after all. but at least here we can challenge our detractors, so i can't blame his hatred of communism. perhaps i would come off ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, china
This is one of the longest, most detailed set of Chinese memoirs I've read thus far. Much of Kang Zhengguo's story mirrors that of other Chinese citizens who were labelled as landlords or reactionaries, only this book has more meat to it than some others that I've read. It took me much longer to finish than others have.

His family class and his desire to learn (particularly literature and foreign languages) made him a perpetual target for the Communist party. He spent time in labor camps doing jo
This is another in-between-a-3-and-a-4. I really valued parts of the book--I was astounded at the author's experiences in China, especially during the Cultural Revolution. His voice is strong and unique and his experiences are incredible--it's hard to believe what a totalitarian government can do in a nation of over a billion people. A terrible travesty. So I'm glad we have this book, documentation of what happens when people decide they have the right to decide what others do, say, and even thi ...more
dibeli karena ingat sama buku Novel Tanpa Nama. Cerita kehidupan pribadi di tengah sebuah sistem sosial yang sangat komunal tentunya menarik. Sejauh mana ekspresi pribadi dapat diterima oleh negara/partai sebagai sesuatu yang sah dan tidak melulu sebuah subversif. Nyatanya kedua penulis buku ini sama-sama mengalami tekanan dan resistensi dari negara/partai. Toh mereka tak bisa dibungkam dan tetap bersuara. :D

Pemutakhiran 13 Mei 09*
Pengantarnya bicara tentang buku ini dalam bahasa aslinya (Mandar
While I can understand this book's critical success, it just didn't light my fire.


Subject/author easy to identify with; multi-dimensional
Great historical era


Picking it up took effort

I can see the value...the therapeutic benefits to the author as well as insight into the individual and the culture for the detailing daily life. I appreciate that. But sometimes my own life is so bogged down with the mundane that I can't bear the thought of re-living anoth
It's quite interesting. It's a book you would want to read if you're into reading real life account of a peasant (a life not considered valuable to the society).
It's quite interesting. It's a book you would want to read if you're into reading real life account of a peasant (a life which was then and probably now, not considered valuable to the society).
Jul 21, 2015 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super engaging- couldn't put it down.
Apr 24, 2008 Mavie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So fascinating. This is a true story of one man's life during the upheaval in China beginning in the middle of the 20th century. This guy was just not born to be a nameless face in the great red tide of communism. Some people are born individuals and can't, no matter how hard they try, subscribe to the follower mentality. The author is rather self-involved and it annoys me, but I realize that he is a product of his culture, and it didn't stop me from being glad I read his book.
Jul 31, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sociology and history lovers
Recommended to Laura by: Baltimore Sun
An great memoir and anthropoloy of Communist China under Mao and beyond. Kang experienced a way of life most people would find almost unbelieveable including: extreme poverty, mind control, corruption, coercive conformity, individual isolation, guilt by association, the constant fear of being imprisioned for the most mundane reasons, the list goes on... Should be mandatory read for all high school students. I will be reading it again.
A chilling memoir of Kang growing up in Maoist China, living through The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution. Kang spirals ever downwards through the class system for his non-conformist attitude. He is punished ever more heavily for every minor infraction deemed reactionary. The despair, helplessness and frustration is palpable through the pages. A very powerful read!
Lois Smith
Confessions is a true story of a young man who grew up in Communist China and was radically opposed to the Chinese Communist Party. However, his hardships and persecution were caused by his own poor choices. It became kind of frustrating that he never seemed to learn from his experiences.
Jul 07, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not finished this book but I really am finding the book quite interesting. It definately fills me with a strong gratitude for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy in America. Although I am only half-way through the book I would definately recommend this book to others.
I'm interested in reading this book not just to learn more about life during the Cultural Revolution in China, but also because this won an award from the Beijing University. So China thinks it's a pretty good book.
Oct 06, 2009 Yvonne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An account of the experiences of a young man during the cultural revolution. Definitely a square peg in the round holes of China under Mao.
Mar 05, 2012 Sue marked it as decided-not-to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
A memoir of daily life in Communist China under Mao. I read the first 50 pages or so, but it didn't hold a candle to "Wild Swans," imho.
Sep 11, 2007 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book, and it's an interesting look at what daily life under the communist regime was like.
May 23, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, insightful memoir on growing up in Communist China.
Oct 09, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting and shocking
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