Frederick Bingham's Reviews > Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Wild Swans by Jung Chang
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's review
Jan 01, 2012

really liked it
Read in March, 2002

An engrossing book. It concerns three women, a grandmother, mother and her daughter who are born and grow up in China. The story is written by the daughter and covers three generations of incredible change. The grandmother is born in 1909, just after the end of the last imperial dynasty. The book ends in 1978 when the daughter leaves China for Britain. The book takes us through the warlord period, the Japanese occupation, the second world war, the nationalist period and finally the communist takeover and rule from 1949 on. The book describes in vivid detail what life is like under each of these regimes. Especially interesting is the description of the "Great Leap Forward" and the "Cultural Revolution" under Chairman Mao. I have read about these events in history books. This book talks about the effect they had on regular people. The author's father and mother are relatively highly placed local officials in Sichuan Province after the communist takeover. Their major fault is trying to do their job fairly and effectively and without accepting corruption. In the mid -1960's during the cultural revolution they are deposed and stripped of their jobs. They are forced to endure lengthy denunciation meetings. The author's father was charged with being a "capitalist-roader" for having done his job effectively. This term, while comical to a westerner, was taken very seriously by the chinese. For this offense, the entire family was sent off to separate isolated rural Gulags to endure hard labor.

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