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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
 
 

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China [Kindle Edition]

Jung Chang
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Review

‘It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book.’ Mary Wesley

‘Everything about Wild Swans is extraordinary. It arouses all the emotions, such as pity and terror, that great tragedy is supposed to evoke, and also a complex mixture of admiration, despair and delight at seeing a luminous intelligence directed at the heart of darkness’ Minette Marrin, The Sunday Telegraph

‘Immensely moving and unsettling; an unforgettable portrait of the brain-death of a nation’ J.G. Ballard, Sunday Times

‘“Wild Swans” made me feel like a five-year-old. This is a family memoir that has the breadth of the most enduring social history.’ Martin Amis, Independent on Sunday

‘There has never been a book like this’ Edward Behr, Los Angeles Times

Product Description

Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular bestseller which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an uplifting story of bravery and survival.

Through the story of three generations of women in her own family – the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist mother and the daughter herself – Jung Chang reveals the epic history of China's twentieth century.

Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2406 KB
  • Print Length: 713 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007176155
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (27 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005ODY2YI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #214 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning autobiography 19 July 2005
By Ally
Format:Paperback
I was reluctant to finish this book, because it was so absorbing that I felt my days would be sadly lacking without more pages to turn and devour. I will undoubtedly re-read it before long, as did the person who lent me the book.
This is a sensitive yet in places deeply shocking exploration of the lives of three generations of women in one Chinese family, beginning in 1909 and ending (in print at least) in 1991. The stories are of a grandmother who was concubine to a warlord, a mother torn between her duties towards her family and to the Party, and the author Jung Chang (or Er-hong, one of the 'wild swans' of the title), who charts her mental battle against (or submission to) the relentless indoctrination of the Mao regime, and depicts her family's hardships under Communism and beforehand.
The intelligent account begins in a China where the people distance themselves from politics and are crippled by their own senseless restrictions and rigid traditions, and describes the transformation to a China equally constrained but much changed. While life at first improves as a result of the rise of Communism, the irrational taboos and regulations soon return, but now in a political and violently enforced form. This is the atmosphere in which the protagonist grows up. It is still a China of persecution, vendettas and hardship, and now ruled by Mao, who wants control of every aspect of his people's lives, and he achieves his control by setting groups and individuals against each other and maintaining a climate of fear and mindless adulation.
Descriptions of China's romantic beauty and subtle culture sit side-by-side with tales of horrifying cruelty and absurdity, leading the reader on an unpredictable and tumultuous journey, which evoked in me unfailing empathy and admiration for Jung Chang.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This has to be read to be believed 7 Dec 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wild Swans is a magnificent book, telling the story of a family over three generations from the Boxer Rebellion, to the Peoples Revolution and the Cultural Revolutions. It can be said that China has a most colourful history, but this story is very very black in parts. Wild Swans will bring you on a journey of love and hope, and it will also throw you into a pit of dispare. Jung Changs experiences through her own eyes and that of her family are brought to life in this book. The imagery is vivid and the emmotions will grab you and tie you down. Whilst reading Wild Swans I felt anger and hatred at Mao and his minions.I found the events of the cultural revolution insane, Why? I must have asked this a hundred times. Yet Changs explains Mao's magnetism, his ability to manipulate the masses, and the fear he drove deep into the peoples hearts. With one hand he would offer hope and with the other he would bring suffering. Wild Swans is a prime example of the fight of the human spirit. It is within us all and Changs has brought her familys spirit to life in this book. If you are considering going to China read this book. It gives a great insight into the minds of the Chinese people. All though times have changed, they are still a tough, hardworker and honest people who simply hope for a good life.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and heart-wrenching 26 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
Jung Chang is supposedly one of the most successful Chinese authors; yet her work is banned in her native country and she now lives in London, England. I first heard about "Wild Swans" several years ago but never got around until reading it until now. Now I've read it I'm sorry that I waited so long.

A quote on the cover says "It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book." - I thought to myself that this must be exaggeration. I expected the book to be interesting; I wanted to find out more about China's recent history and I was sure it would be interesting to read what it was like to live through the cultural revolution, but I didn't think its importance would be more than a bit of human interest. I was wrong: the quote is right on the money. This book is important especially if you're like me and thought that you understood enough about China. I thought that I knew what the cultural revolution was about. I thought it was just some craziness in which doctors, administrators and other professionals were sent to work in the fields. What I had no idea about was what it was really like for the people involved. I had also thought that the Chinese government was uniformly bad, responsible as it has been for the invasion of Tibet and gross human rights violations. While that is true, it seems that, like many things, the truth is more complex than it first appears. But this book is more than just dry historical fact - it packs an emotional punch that is hard to overstate. Not only is great suffering described but also great courage and bravery. I often found myself wondering how I would have acted if I found myself in similar situations to the author's parents and whether I would have the courage to act as they did.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, terrible, beautiful story 29 May 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I've been glued to this book for the past fortnight - it is so vivid that it feels like you're actually there, in China. Calm gardens, with streams, peach blossoms and flowers form the back drop to many of the scenes, and this beautiful natural landscape contrasts with the mindless violence and disorder of the human world.
Jung Chang's writing is deceptively simple and you truly relate and identify both with the narrator and her family. This means that it's like a gripping novel, as well as biography.
Plus, this book gives you an insider view of the irrationality of Chinese Communism and shows George Orwell's nightmare vision of '1984' to be more accurate than ever. Yet, the book never lapses into tedious explanations or arguments, teaching us history without any effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Having visited China, long after the time of Mao ...
Having visited China , long after the time of Mao, but a number of places referred to in the book had so much more meaning when I recall some of the places referred to. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Jack Gutteridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Intensely moving
Published 6 days ago by Mrs Deborah Poxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read well written account of the times in China a very moving story
Published 8 days ago by Mrs F B Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid family stories to show us the recent decades in China.
Good novel. This novel well illustrates stories of three generations of women born and raised in China - interesting... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Sylvia
5.0 out of 5 stars China unveiled.
This autobiography is an excellent read and gives an insight into the painful changes suffered by families in PRC. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Fylde Coaster
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read
Read as background to school module, and was fascinating to see life from the bottom up, instead of the top down - as I had mainly studied it. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Daniel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really pleased with book.
Published 18 days ago by alwine curtis
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book I have ever read
This is the best book I have ever read. I adore it, and felt very sad to come to the final page. A blend of personal anecdote and political commentary, beautifully written. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Tingers
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but more subjective than admitted
I lend it to a friend, as I didn't want this book to sit in my shelf. It is just that good. I had been worried, that it would be quite a dark, demoralising read, but I actually... Read more
Published 22 days ago by muki
5.0 out of 5 stars In my life time!
A truly wonderful insight into life in China over the period in which I was growing up in mid WAles with no knowledge of the dreadful conditions imposed by Mao and his... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Mr Dennis Williams
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This signalled the beginning of the end of individual expression in China. &quote;
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He understood ugly human instincts such as envy and resentment, and knew how to mobilize them for his ends. He ruled by getting people to hate each other. In doing so, he got ordinary Chinese to carry out many of the tasks undertaken in other dictatorships by professional elites. &quote;
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The need to obtain authorization for an unspecified ‘anything’ was to become a fundamental element in Chinese Communist rule. It also meant that people learned not to take any action on their own initiative. &quote;
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