It felt like a feat to complete this book. I had a hard time reading more than a few pages at a time because it was emotionally taxing. I was completely ignorant about Chinese history before reading Wild Swans, so it was definitely worth reading -- just unbelievable how much those people had to endure.
Without reading this memoir written by someone who lived through it, I don't think I would ever have been able to understand why the people continued to follow Mao when he was making such insane policies (The Great Leap Forward, the Red Guards, the Cultural Revolution). The cult of personality was so powerful. No one knew where they stood, no one allowed themselves to question what was happening lest they speak out and bring about their own ruin.
It definitely made me want to learn more about China.