Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China Paperback – 14 Jul 2016
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‘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, 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
'Immensely moving and unsettling; an unforgettable portrait of the brain-death of a nation.' (The 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.' (The Independent on Sunday)
'There has never been a book like this.' (Los Angeles Times)
'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.' (The Sunday Telegraph) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the reading about the lives of three generations of strong, courageous, resourceful women. I learned so much about Mao ' s rule. Read morePublished 1 day ago by JayJay
Fantastic biography just be glad you didn't live in China thenPublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
THIS BOOK IS AN ABOMINATION TO THE WORKER LADIES OF CHINA, THE VILLAGE WOMEN, THE TRUE COMMUNISTS AND THE PEOPLE. Read morePublished 7 days ago by FAHIMA
moving story. gift for a friend who was very happy with itPublished 12 days ago by julian hallworth
My score represents my slight confusion with this book, and my ultimate feeling that I should finish it, rather than necessarily enjoying it. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Riveting.A brilliant record of both the absolute stupidity of which the human being is capable, and the resilience basically inherent.Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
Have read many many books over the years - this one stands out - because of it being a true story, because it intertwines three personal histories of grandmother, mother and... Read morePublished 26 days ago by elemel
A beautiful poignant read, I read Wild Swans while on a month long tour through China and it coloured my experiences deeply. A truly moving journey.Published 1 month ago by TinksEyeView