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Vermilion Gate: An Extraordinary Story of Growing Up in Communist China: A Family Story of Communist China Hardcover – 5 Oct 2000

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Hardcover, 5 Oct 2000
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (5 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316641707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316641708
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.2 x 6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 752,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Through the clear eyes and rather dispassionate voice of Aiping Mu is revealed her family's story and the idiosyncrasies, privations, optimism and horrors of life in 20th-century China. Now in England, where she has gained a PhD, Aiping has land-owning forebears--a fact which would haunt her family after the rise of Communism. Her parents were early converts to Communism who were given senior status by the Party only to be later persecuted, imprisoned and tortured during the Cultural Revolution when even combed hair was considered a sign of a hated bourgeois intellectual. Aipings childhood was privileged, but her teenage years, when she joined the Red Guard, a struggle. By the time she was recruited to the army and achieved a university place to study medicine, she had endured years of political persecution, humiliation, family separations and rural starvation. Her adult life was made miserable by a disastrous marriage and the painful disintegration of her family.

Vermilion Gate seems unsparingly honest about Chinese society, the traumatic breakdown of a family and Aipings ultimate loss of faith in Communism. It describes a world which, to Western eyes, at times seems almost that of a folk tale it is so unfamiliar. A work of biblical proportions, reading this saga requires a degree of stamina, but the committed will be enriched by a far greater understanding of the culture and history of this totally different world. --Karen Tiley


Mu's life story is so remarkable that even the barest outline is difficult to absorb . . . comparisons to Jung Chang's Wild Swans are inevitable, but Mu's book is similar only in that it is long and gripping . . . it provides a rare glimpse of life in the highest revolutionary circles (THE TIMES)

[A] highly readable memoir... (TLS)

A gripping tale. (IRELAND ON SUNDAY)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joan Ann Corderoy on 19 Aug. 2001
It is with a certain amount of relief that one arrives at the end of this book - not because one has managed to get through its 790 pages - but because it is hoped that - at last - the author has found serenity and happiness in her present life. Aiping Mu has experienced more suffering, both physical and psychological, than would seem to be humanly possible to support. The incredible hardships experienced by firstly her grandparents, her own parents, and afterwards by herself, are told against a backdrop of the unfolding history of Communist China. To the western reader the events are as remote as reading science-fiction. It is hard to imagine that "punishment" for not being a good communist can take the form (in the author's case as a teenager) of being exiled to one of the remotest regions of China - away from her family - living in a cave and existing often only on flowers and leaves. "Separation" is a word that often comes up in this book - separation from family and friends for not only months, but sometimes for years. There is astonishment that parents who had committed no "crime" at all - as perceived by our western eyes - could have been subjected to the worst humiliations - both physical (torture) and psychological (public rejection). This ultimately had repercussions on her own relationship with an adored father - told with great sensitivity. The feeling on having read this book is that there must be very, very few similar experiences which could be matched in any other society with those of her own and of her compatriots.
Historically, the reader is the richer on having been able to enter into the closed world of Communist China from the beginning - to the end -of the "reign" of Mao Tse-tung.
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