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Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  50 ratings  ·  18 reviews
They were the most famous sisters in China. As the country battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the center of power, and each of them left an indelible mark on history.

Red Sister, Ching-ling, married the 'Father of China', Sun Yat-sen, and rose to be Mao's vice-chair.
Little Sister, May-ling, became Mada/>Little/>Red
...more
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Published October 29th 2019 by Vintage Digital
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Veronica ⭐️
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is the biography of the amazing Soong sisters who together made a huge impact on history.
The three sisters became a modern Chinese fairytale. They were much talked about and fanciful gossip about them was often passed around.

“In China there were three sisters. One loved money, one loved power, and one loved her country.”

Charlie Soong being very forward thinking sent each of his daughters to an American boarding school at a young
...more
Jemima Pett
This is an epic undertaking by an excellent writer and historian. Jung Chang brings the early twentieth century to life as she explores the world of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-Shek. She shows their progress towards revolution, seen through the lives of the family who knew them.  Taking the three sisters as the focal point is a clever way of exploring the twists and turns of Chinese society and politics as it moves from a monarchy through to communism.

The author crafts the extraordina
...more
Anne M
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Published by:
Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
Jonathan Cape
Pub Date 17 October 2019. Reviewed 20 October 2019.

The official description:
They were the most famous sisters in China. As the country battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the centre of power, and each of them left an indelible mark on history. Red Sister, Ching-ling, married the ‘Father of China’, Sun Yat-sen, and rose to be
...more
George1st
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jung Chang is probably best known for her hugely successful family autobiography Wild Swans, however she has also written two historic books Mao: The Unknown Story and Empress Dowager Cixi. Now she tells the extraordinary story of three sisters who due to marriage and family association found themselves at the centre of the tumultuous events that engulfed 20th century China. We have Red Sister, Ching-ling who married the still revered ‘Father of China’, Sun Yat-sen and due to our allegiance to t ...more
Kevin
Let's not pretend this is a light read, it does cover almost to 150 years of modern Chinese political history, but it's impressively accessible and not particularly dry or dense either. Partly, this is due to the perspective Chang approached it from - focusing on the three Soong sisters, part of one of the "Four big families of the Republic of China". The sisters are summarized by a Maoist saying, "One loved money, one loved power, one loved her country". This book clearly shows that's a fairly ...more
jean
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness - where to start a review of this epic book?!
I don't read a lot of non fiction, but this caught my attention having read and enjoyed "wild swans" and this book also features 3 strong women. Coupled with their lives being irrevocably entwined in the history of modern China with its warring factions and their own sibling rivalries an explosive narrative is assured.
As Ms Chang outlines in her introduction, a lot of material is available about their stories and she has obviously done
...more
Dawn
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chang's research, as always, is astonishing. In this intimate portrait of the Soong sisters, you get a real sense of who they were. I've seen one or two reviews be critical about the fact that the book focuses a fair bit on the men in sisters' lives. I can understand that - I think Chiang Kai-Shenk was given more prominence than "Big Sister" Ei-Ling.

But, all three sisters were in the positions they were because of who they were married to (or in Ei-Ling's case, who her sister May-Ling was marri
...more
Lucy
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of the three Soong sisters, born in Shanghai at the end of the 19th century, and influential throughout the whole of 20th century Chinese politics.

A combination of biography and political history, the book explores the lives of the three sisters, how their politics, beliefs, faiths and passions diverge and reunite.

I did find this fairly heavy-going (Iet’s face it, political history isn’t the lightest topic!) but worth sticking at. The sisters are fa
...more
Sharyn
I have to admit to struggling with this book. I am a fast reader but five days in and I am still only half way through it. It is not the 'biography' I was expecting and hoping for but a detailed history of Chinese politics. The actual story is just 84% of the unproofed download but I am abandoning it for now and may come back to finish it at a later date.. Three stars as the writing is readable and the research is amazing. But it's not the biography I was expecting, it's more about the men in th ...more
Dominique Wilson
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is the fascinating collective biography of the Soong sisters of Shanghai – three strong-willed, passionate, and independent women who influenced the development of modern China and Taiwan, often from opposing political camps.

Jung Chang's research is impressive, delving into archives in the US, the UK, Taiwan, Russia and Hong Kong, as well as diaries, interviews with the Soong's family and friends, and eye-witness accounts of various events. The result is a vivid
...more
Angie
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With the publication of "Wild Swans", Jung Chang lit a fire in my belly for Chinese culture and I've been fascinated and intrigued by it ever since. Her latest offering, "Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister" is an excellent piece of work. The Soong sisters' lives make for fascinating reading. One of the things I love most about Chang is that she makes history accessible for layfolk. The bibliography attests to the sheer volume of research undertaken, and the wealth of information imparted to t ...more
Beth Stackhouse
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this in 3 nights. I was quite interested in and it was a great read. Not a type of book I would normally read but am glad I did. The women it’s about were strong willed and knew what they wanted. They lead an interesting life of lots of ups and down. It was so interesting to read about this era and country and all that happened and is still happening. I would recommend to this book.
Deborah Dobrin
This is a great read If you love your books historically accurate and full of facts. I found it a little heavy going and unwieldy in parts but it was all essential. It’s not wild swans it’s not a sweeping family saga but it is interesting, well researched and for all that enjoyable. Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book.
katy ktp
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read all Jung Chan's previous books and loved them. This one however proved heavy going. In the foreward she says that she didn't empathise with the 3 sisters and hadn't previously wanted to write about them. This was born out in the book where their characters never really came to life. I rather wished she hadn't changed her mind.
Mary Stokes
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
While the story of the 3 sisters was interesting , the writing was mediocre and the book was full of tedious detail.
Hanadi
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: br-preview, dnf
Thanks to Better Reading for a preview copy.

An extensively researched book, detailing the political and personal lives of 3 Chinese sisters.
It was a long, heavy going read for me, and read much like a political history lesson, so it will definitely appeal to those who like politics. DNF
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Jung Chang (simplified Chinese: 张戎; traditional Chinese: 張戎; pinyin: Zhāng Róng; Wade-Giles: Chang Jung, born March 25, 1952 in Yibin, Sichuan) is a Chinese-born British writer now living in London, best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, selling over 10 million copies worldwide but banned in mainland China.

See also ユン チアン, 張戎.