Emma's Reviews > Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
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's review
Aug 08, 2011

I borrowed this book from the library as I have just started learning Mandarin and wanted to understand more about the recent history of China. I knew very little about the Cultural Revolution when I started reading this book, and, although this is one woman's personal account, I learned a lot about the political upheaval that took place during 1960s-1980s China. It is difficult to believe that China effectively cut itself off from the rest of the world and effectively persecuted a large percentage of its population in what was really a power struggle in the top echelons of the communist party.

Nien Cheng's own story of six and a half years in solitary confinement is a truly harrowing one. The physical and mental abuse she endured is unbelievable and it can only be testament to her strength of character that she survived the ordeal and told the world about it. I cannot comprehend how heartbreaking it must have been for her to endure this persecution only to find on her release that her only daughter had been murdered whilst she had been imprisoned.

This is by no means an easy read, but an enlightening and important one in order to understand this period in China's history.

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