This is a great inside look at the Chinese Revolution--from before the Communists won until Mao's death. Sidney Rittenberg was one of the tiny handfulThis is a great inside look at the Chinese Revolution--from before the Communists won until Mao's death. Sidney Rittenberg was one of the tiny handful of foreigners that were allowed to live and work in China after 1949. He was also the first American to join the Chinese Communist party. He participated in the many campaigns like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and he knew Mao, Zhou Enlai, and other top government officials personally. He was jailed twice, once for six years and once for ten, both times in solitary confinement. This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in modern China. It shows what happened there from a very unique perspective....more
A novel about two sisters and their journey from being "Beautiful Girls" in Shanghai to immigrants in Los Angeles. So much happens along the way. ThisA novel about two sisters and their journey from being "Beautiful Girls" in Shanghai to immigrants in Los Angeles. So much happens along the way. This book is compelling, passionate, and very readable. ...more
The sequel to Shanghai Girls, this book takes us back to China during the early years of Mao's reign. Joy has left Los Angeles and her mother followsThe sequel to Shanghai Girls, this book takes us back to China during the early years of Mao's reign. Joy has left Los Angeles and her mother follows her, trying to get her to come home. They both find out the hard way what China has really become. Just as good as Shanghai Girls. I'm glad I got to read them together....more
This is an interesting account of a Peace Corp. Volunteer who spent two years teaching at a college in a town called Fuling on the Yangtze River.
The bThis is an interesting account of a Peace Corp. Volunteer who spent two years teaching at a college in a town called Fuling on the Yangtze River.
The best parts of the book were the personal parts, interactions between Hessler and his students, with the townspeople, and with the many friends he made during his stay. I found those parts fascinating, funny, sad, and strange. I don't think I could have handled living those two years as well as Hessler did.
The writing is dense with descriptions of the land that seemed to somehow weigh the book down and pull it under a bit. The descriptions are eloquently written, but I wanted less of that and more of the interpersonal parts. That's why I gave it a four instead of a five. This really is a very good book....more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, especially the ending, it was like the ending that was "supposed" to happen didn't happen until the last**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, especially the ending, it was like the ending that was "supposed" to happen didn't happen until the last page of the book and it started looking like it wasn't going to happen. She really had me on the edge of my seat! This is the story of a girl in China, I think in the early 1990's, who graduates college and has one thing go wrong after another, trying to fit into the modern China and still live in the traditional China at the same time, having to take responsibility for her parent's needs, agreeing to an arranged marriage, doing what her father tells her to do even though she knows better. A lot happens, but she doesn't give up. The author did a good job with her writing style, point of view, etc. This is a really good book....more
**spoiler alert** This story amazed me. The first part of the book is about Li's life before he was chosen to be part of Madame Mao's dance school at**spoiler alert** This story amazed me. The first part of the book is about Li's life before he was chosen to be part of Madame Mao's dance school at age eleven. His family was poor and lived mostly on dried yams. Li does a great job describing their lives, the love the bound them together, and their poverty. He also describes the Cultural Revolution and how his life was impacted. He was chosen to be a ballet dancer and sent to Beijing, the last class that danced for Madame Mao, since Mao died and the Gang of Four was arrested while he was still in school. Li got the chance to go to the West and that's when he learned about freedom of thought and couldn't stand the thought of living under the oppressive Communist regime. He defected and lived in America and now Australia. This book is so powerful and emotional and well-written. It is like a modern fairy tale that's true! ps--the movie is really good too, but the book goes into a lot more detail about his life in China. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book took place from late 1968 to 1976. Ma Bo and a few friends, all students and Red Guards, decided to go up the mountains, a**spoiler alert** This book took place from late 1968 to 1976. Ma Bo and a few friends, all students and Red Guards, decided to go up the mountains, and down to the valleys to be taught by the peasants, one of Chairman Mao's decrees. So they went to Inner Mongolia. After writing a letter in their own blood, they were finally assigned to the Seventh Regiment. One of the first things they did when they got there was to raid the home of a "herdowner"--a man who owned 18 sheep. They ransaked his house, killed his dog and beat the man up. He never resisted. When they were done with he smiled. He knew what would happen if he opposed the will of the people. Ma Bo continues fighting and he falls in love, unrequited love, until he is branded an active counterrevolutionay, based on a few comments he made about the leadership of the regiment and about Mao's wife, and some issues involving a dog. He is imprisoned, then paraded to every regiment to be denounced in meetings where the people scream slogans at him, beat him, and force him to assume the airplane position for hours. He finds out that his best friend betrayed him and his mother diswons him once she finds out he has opposed the party. She is a writer and has her own political problems, once her best selling book was labeled a poisonous weed. Ma Bo is sentenced to 8 years of supervised labor. He never stops trying to get the verdict over turned and after many years, it is changed from him being a counterrevolutionary to having made serious politcal errors. He goes through horrendous conditions, man-made and natural during those years, and while he is enduring his trials, the eco-system of the steppe is being destroyed by the activities--construction, quarrying, agriculture--of the many regiments. Then the regiments leave and he decides to write his story. The book ends with him writing furiously as he is about to be sent back to Beijing. Another look at the Cultural Revolution and the impact it had on the people--those who participated and those who just tried to endure. Many died. This is the first book I've read about what happened in Inner Mongolia. Ma Bo starts out cocky and very butal, but he changes by the end of the book. He has many soul searing experiences. I almost gave it 3 stars, because it drug a little, I started wishing it would hurry up and end. I enjoyed the writing style, he did a great job portraying the natural world, the work he did, what he suffered and the politcal and interpersonal interactions of the people he was with. I wish he would have talked about before and after the stay in Inner Mongolia. I think that would have set the book in context and made it more interesting. It was too much of the same, same fighting, same cursing, same drinking, same working and shirking work by the same people. I did enjoy this book and I'm glad I read it. ...more