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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
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March 2018: Autobiography > Wild Swans:Three Daughters of China 5 stars

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Diane Zwang | 485 comments I was hooked on this book the moment I started the introduction from the author. I loved that the author's mother wanted most to tell her story. It is so powerful to be heard, recognized, acknowledged for a life lived. This biography about three generations of Chinese women read like a novel, I was captivated. I considered all these women feminists. They all made difficult decisions to save their lives or the lives of their families; so inspiring, I am humbled. I learned about the famine of 1958-1962 and the atrocities that went with it. I was a bit shocked at the introduction where the author compares Chairman Mao to Hitler but after reading the book I see why. I have read about Mao's Red Guards before but this book added to my knowledge. I especially enjoyed the family photos at the end of the book, put a very human face to this family story. My first 5 star read this year and I am so glad that I read it.

“She was being kept out of a progressive organization by backward people, and yet the revolution seemed to be telling her that it was she who was in the wrong.”

“For the first time she vaguely reflected on the fact that, as the revolution was made by humans beings, it was burdened with their failings.”

“The whole nation slid into doublespeak. Words became divorced from reality, responsibility, and people's real thoughts. Lies were told with ease because words had lost their meanings-and had ceased to be taken seriously by others.”

“The Cultural Revolution not only did nothing to modernize the medieval elements in China's culture, it actually gave them political respectability. “Modern” dictatorship and ancient intolerance fed on each other.”


message 2: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments So glad to see you loved this. It's on my list and came as highly recommended to me. I own it. I planned to read it on vacation, but that didn't happen. My motivation remains, and your review helped.

Just out of curiosity, if per chance next month's tag turns out to be "strong women", would this fit in your opinion?

I've looked through all three tags, and I really only have books about writing much to my chagrin.


Diane Zwang | 485 comments Absolutely this book fits strong women. It is funny how this book could fit all these tags; Asia, Autobiography and strong women. I hope you enjoy it.


message 4: by annapi (last edited Mar 17, 2018 11:24AM) (new) - added it

annapi | 4903 comments I loved this book too when I read it years ago, and I've pimped it ever since. Read it, Anita!


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael (mike999) | 569 comments Lovely review and quotes. Like Anita guilty for having the desire and the book but needing that extra nudge.


message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8278 comments I’m at 60%. It fit Asia, it now fits autobiography, and is on the list for strong women. But I’m gonna try to finish it this month. It’s going to get five stars from me too. What an opening line. I am loving it!


Diane Zwang | 485 comments Amy wrote: "I’m at 60%. It fit Asia, it now fits autobiography, and is on the list for strong women. But I’m gonna try to finish it this month. It’s going to get five stars from me too. What an opening line. I..."

Amy the book ends at 85% so you are closer than you think:)


message 8: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8278 comments How can I book end at 85% of itself? I’m in a hotel room by myself tonight, so three things I hope to accomplish with my rare solo time is to review Born a Crime, to read at least another two chapters of wild swans, and to make more headway in theGirls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin. So far I haven’t gotten farther than the cheesecake factory and the Stamford Mall In CT.


message 9: by Cynda (last edited Mar 17, 2018 04:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda Amy, will you remind me of the opening line? I haven't read this book since mid-1990s.


Diane Zwang | 485 comments Amy wrote: "How can I book end at 85% of itself? I’m in a hotel room by myself tonight, so three things I hope to accomplish with my rare solo time is to review Born a Crime, to read at least another two chapt..."

The rest of the book is epilogue, appendices, family tree, chronology, map of China, acknowledgements, etc...


message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Ack. Family trees, chronology, etc., should be in the front, imo. I so often struggle to keep track of things, and then find out that I had a guide!


message 12: by Cynda (last edited Mar 17, 2018 06:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynda Cheryl wrote: "Ack. Family trees, chronology, etc., should be in the front, imo. I so often struggle to keep track of things, and then find out that I had a guide!"

I agree that they should. However I often find that history books have their useful info in the back of the book. It is just traditional. The popular histories sometimes put some of the most useful info in the front. . . . In case this helps for the future.


message 13: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8278 comments Opening line: At age 15 my grandmother became a concubine for General... (a big mucky muck general in the leading party at the time.) I thought - wow, that draws you right in!


Cynda Amy wrote: "Opening line: At age 15 my grandmother became a concubine for General... (a big mucky muck general in the leading party at the time.) I thought - wow, that draws you right in!"

Yep. I remember her parents thinking it was move up. Thanks for reminding me.


message 15: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8278 comments Here's where I am in the book. While I was reading it on vacation, competing it with other books, which I hate, and never works... The library announced it was overdue, and I was being charged 15 cents a day. Its hard to read under that kind of pressure. My friend is listening to the audio, but found her old copy and brought it to my house, so I could return the library copy. So now I have all the time in the world - which is making it hard for me to get to it. In the old copy, I knew exactly how many pages of text and could figure out where I was. This older version is throwing me off. But I have completed 17 of 28 chapters and there is an epilogue. Maybe tonight I can knock some more of it off,...


Cynda Hi Amy. I don't know how your library works. Mine lets me keep renewing until I have borrowed the book for 6 weeks and then lets me take the book into the library, find out if anyone is waiting to read it, and if not I can check it out again. I know this idea won't help this time but may help next time 🙄


message 17: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 8278 comments I can renew twice for a total of 9 weeks (three weeks a turn). Unless the book is in high demand. I don’t know why an older book like Wild Swans was in such high demand. The Great Alone is due back Tuesday. No way they give me another three weeks. But I get most books from up to 9.


Cynda That is a generous amount of time for a library. Lucky you :-) I know it's women's history month, but in addition to that, I have been seeing a larger-than-usual number of YouTube videos and links to websites about footbinding. I think a new wave of awareness arrived.


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Yall have convinced me to read this is Strong Women wins next month.


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