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Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai [Kindle Edition]

Nien Cheng
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution.

A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution. Nien Cheng, an anglophile and fluent English-speaker who worked for Shell in Shanghai under Mao, was put under house arrest by Red Guards in 1966 and subsequently jailed. All attempts to make her confess to the charges of being a British spy failed; all efforts to indoctrinate her were met by a steadfast and fearless refusal to accept the terms offered by her interrogators. When she was released from prison she was told that her daughter had committed suicide. In fact Meiping had been beaten to death by Maoist revolutionaries.


Originally published in 1986, a memoir in which the author recounts the horrors of China's Cultural Revolution, during which she was falsely accused of being a British spy and was jailed for 6 years.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 833 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 014010870X
  • Publisher: Flamingo (19 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,250 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book, written by a remarkable women 31 Aug 2003
By "s222"
Never have I finished reading a book with tears in my eyes. Even though I have read quite a few of the flurry of autobiographies set in "20th century China. This one is set apart. Written by a remarkable, intelligent women whose spirit and insight into humanity will stay with me for ever. I have never thought or looked for personal inspiration from one person, after reading this book one cannot help but be inspired.
Set apart from other biographies of the same ilk, in that this is one persons story,(not family) articulating a remarkable understanding of such a complex countries politics all while suffering the inhumanity of (wronged) imprisonment. Never have I read a book and wanted to know more about the author. Just to know if she found peace of mind (or some semblance of it)
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By J
Yes, Nien Cheng suffered and was courageous - all the reviewers will tell you that. But this book is distinguished by also being intellectually stimulating. She was a business woman working for a foreign company in China before commercial enterprise was really accepted in China and she was a careful observer of modern Chinese history. She kept sane in prison through a simple method of constant intellectual self challenge. The content of this process alone makes the book a must read. It shows how, under huge pressure, she continually analysed what was going on; constantly reinterpreting history, small behavioral signs, snippets of information; taking advantage of the slight shifts in perspective afforded her. That she shares this process and her conclusions with you in such detail and with cooly argued logic, makes this book a treasure. That, in this tragedy, there is also so much humour in the mental repartee is a bonus.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish i was like her!! 15 Aug 2001
An amazing novel to read, it expresses all emotions a human being can over imagine to go through and more.
I really did feel for Nein Cheng, it's impossible not to. She is an amazing woman and an inspiration to us all the torture she suffered is unimaginable yet described so well.
The strength and courage she had, still has, is a lesson to us all. I am just thankful she lived to tell the tale.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I read this book the first time 14 years ago when I was on my material leave with my only daughter. I have read this book again during the journey back home to attend my mother's death-bed recently. This book made me think how humam beings can be manipulated. We think that we are acting to our own consciousness. But are we? Nien survived not only because of her courage but of her intelligence and integrity. I am glad to see integrity does pay off in the end. As a mother of an only daughter and a Chinese myself, I think I know of her loss. My heart goes with her. This is certainly one of the best books I have ever read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madness 1 Mar 2009
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng.

Over the last month or so I've given crime fiction a bit of a break and have been reading quite a lot about China, both fiction and non-fiction. The above is a factual memoir concerning a middle class woman caught up in China under Mao Tse Tung, the Leader of the People's Republic of China and Chairman of the Communist Party of China, and the impact the Cultural Revolution had on its people.

It's significant that the author is, to my mind, not always an entirely sympathetic individual. For example during the upheaval in China, when it was apparent that all aspects of Chinese society were going through fundamental social changes, she clings tenaciously to her middle class status and continues to live, in comparative terms, an affluent lifestyle. During these volatile times she retains a number of servants - an inflammatory action certain to ignite the ire of the authorities. This, coupled with her former work for a multi national English company - Shell - ensured that she was soon under the scrutiny of the unblinking and penetrating gaze of the Communist authorities. What is tiresome is the author's refusal to adapt to her changing circumstances and her insistence that each member of her family, including herself, has the temperance of a saint, the intellectual capacity of a genius and the humility of a Buddhist monk. This is a pity because it does, to an extent, detract from the sympathy we feel for Nien Cheng and the suffering she experiences at the hands of the oppressive regime under Chairman Mao. As a social document, however, this memoir is fascinating.

The memoir begins around 1966 and Niem is a reluctant witness to the Cultural Revolution and the resultant confusion and attendant terror.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one womens struggle against all odds 27 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This is one woman's struggle against the political system that is and was China. It tells in detail and with clarity all that happens to her and it made me wonder just how she survived. I only wish I was made of the same stuff that she is. An outstanding women and a book that transcends all genders, race, religon and beliefs. A must read for all. Absolutely outstanding!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent, powerful & uplifting read 9 Nov 2000
I took this book with me on holidays feeling that perhaps it was not really that suitable. However from page 1 it is gripping; it has all the elements of normal holiday reading in pace and drama but obviously goes much further given its historical and real-life human context. The biggest compliment I can give is that never has a book made me so desirous to meet its author. Nien Cheng is a tremendous example to all of us whether in situations of torment or not. Read this book, it is brilliant.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Published 20 days ago by eva
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of endurance and fortitude.
Nien Cheng was a wealthy cultured woman living in Shanghai. During the cultural revolution she was 'shamed' and eventually imprisoned for two years. Read more
Published 6 months ago by NoQlu
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!
I highly recommend reading this book if you are interested in Chinese history, and in particular, the Cultural Revolution in China. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life
The story of one woman's life and troubles as the new born People's Republic of China tottered into the modern world. Read more
Published 11 months ago by AJM
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story
This book you wont want to put down its riveting Nien Cheng makes you feel as though you are with her every step of the way, a story of a very brave and intellectual lady who just... Read more
Published 12 months ago by jacqui kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
Very interesting story, interesting subject and a plot absorbing right to the very end. Definitely worth reading and the kindle version - amazing!
Published 13 months ago by Jolanta Siwinska
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Very good book, very real experience. Elegant lady, tough lady went through the horrible historic event.. Thank you for leaving such a precious record of your experience. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Anne Huang
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
I couldn't put this book down. A story of real courage by a lady during China's cultural revolution.. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Sunseeker
5.0 out of 5 stars What did happen in Shanghai during the revolution.
It is fascinating account of what went on in Shanghai and generally in China as told by an incredibly brave woman who was subjected to six and a half years of solitary confinement... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Annelies B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and Death in Shanghai
A gripping and powerful account of the ordeals of people during the cultural revolution and the courage of many. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2012 by E Wood
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Popular Highlights

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In every circumstance, we unite the lesser enemies to fight the major enemy. When the major enemy is overcome, one of the lesser enemies will become the new major enemy. So the struggle goes on. That’s dialectical materialism.’ &quote;
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There must be something lacking in our own character, I thought, that had made it possible for his evil genius to dominate. &quote;
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‘Do you mean to say that your Party Secretary was of the opinion that I and other senior Chinese employees of foreign firms in Shanghai were put in prison and pressed to confess just because someone, either Lin Piao or Chiang Ching, wanted to use our confessions, if we made them, to discredit Premier Chou’s policy of allowing foreign firms to operate in China?’ &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

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