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Hardcover Legacies a Chinese Mosaic Book

ISBN: 1855925028

ISBN13: 9781855925021

Legacies a Chinese Mosaic

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

Urgent and timeless, Legacies brings us closer than we have ever been to penetrating the great conundrum of China m the twentieth century. It could only have been written by Bette Bao Lord -- born in... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Illuminates the last 50 years of Chinese history

How much do you know about recent Chinese history? I knew a bit, but reading A Chinese Mosaic, by Betty Bao Lord, really brought the recent human tragedies of modern China home.Bao Lord intertwines two main themes: the story of her experiences as an American citizen who emigrated from China as a youngster and is returning as the wife of a American diplomat, and the stories of Chinese friends and acquaintances, often given to her on audio tape, and recounting the sordid and tragic tale of the last 50 years of China. She does all this against the backdrop of the mid to late 1980s and the Tiananmen Square protests by college students.This book derives much of its power from the simple stories Bao Lord relates. Whether it's the man who stays alive locked in his office (for years) because his son flys a kite to reminds his father of his presence, or the stories of the real life excesses of the Red Guards, burning any of the "Four Olds," these stories are touching and real. Even her own family story has a certain pathos, as we learn about her grandfather dying three years before she was able to visit, her aunt calmly dying of cancer, and a sister who only learned that she was adopted by happenstance.The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the other major events of modern Chinese history are only touched on as they affect the people in the stories told, but even that was enough to shock me with what this nation endured. In fact, it's even more shocking than it was when I read about it in the history books, because the folks in the stories are real people.

Painful stories of the Cultural Revolution

Bao Lord's book is a montage of stories about her family and friends in China against first, the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution, and then Tienamen Square in 1989. There have been many books that have come out in the 1990's on the Cultural revolution, an unimaginably painful period of 10 years in China during which Mao Zedong turned the people against one another as a way of deflecting challenges to his own power. The country descended into chaos as the Red Guard, basically a group of millions of teenagers set loose, destroyed everything in its path. Thirty million people died during this period! It is hard to imagine living through what Bao Lord's characters have endured--betrayal by relatives and friends, the death of a child, imprisonment for no reason, torture, the destruction of education, art and culture--it goes on and on. Many of these stories are told in the characters' own words, transcribed from audio tapes sent to her by people who wanted their stories told. The stories of Bao Lord's own family are equally absorbing, especially of her grandmother, who defied tradition and paid the price.I listened to the audio version of this book, read by the author. Generally I find that professional readers do a better job, but this book was an exception--Bao Lord reads with great emotion in a slightly inflected voice but otherwise no acccent. She does an excellent job. Anyone traveling to China is well-advised to read several memoirs of modern China. It is easy to look at China today and see rapid modernization, signs of free enterprise, and a bustling economy. Books like Bao Lord's remind us that China has a long way to go.


This is the most amazing book I read in a while, in touch me in all the ways possible. I simply love this book so much. It is a story telling that one could not be found anywhere else. Bette Bao Lord surpasses Amy Tan with Spring Moon. Peerless in its artisry and beauty, Lord has done wonders.

experiencing the cultural revolution

This book is filled with fascinating anecdotes about the cultural revolution. I had visited China shortly before reading it and felt everyone should go there as you don't appreciate the society you live in without contrast. For example, there is an anecdote about a fellow whose wife was sent away by the government and he missed being together with her so much that at dinner he set her place and got into her clothing so as to feel she were still with him. What this book did for me was make me more aware of how we all are at the mercy of social currents and this awareness enables me to accept my helplessness and helps me to dissipate my anger. Peace of mind, afforded by knowledge, not ignorance is worth a great deal to me. This book, I found, easy to read and educational.

Two Great Stories in a Fine Book

The author of Spring Moon, the story of her sister's youth in China during the Cultural Revolution, has written another book, a collection of stories of hard life in China during the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, up to the disaster in Tiananmen Square. Shanghai born Bette Bao Lord uses her skill at explaining China by drawing on her early life there, and her family, cultural, and literary connections to China. These stories are short biographies, mostly autobiographical, of artists, educator, writers, and intellectuals caught up in the turmoil so constant in China over recent centuries. She interweaves these stories with her own, of the times she accompanied her husband, Winston Lord, to the region in his various government positions, but primary while he served as Ambassador from 1985-89. Similar to the couple itself, both halves of the book are interesting without its partner, but complement each other and create a whole greater than if they stood alone. Lord has an intimate touch with both her identities, Chinese and American, and explains the conflict she often feels without over sensitive grousing. She accepts it and attempts to reconcile the two, without dwelling too much when she fails. Between her family and official connections, she was introduced to many Chinese whose pain is hard to read about. Its harder still to imagine oneself having to experience their lives and surviving. I was struck with their stoicism following their time as victim, or victimizer , and their apparent forgiveness of countrymen who abused them during China's time of troubles. I don't think I would be capable to forgive or even understand. Perhaps survival grants its' achievers skills in human emotion as its graduation present. Almost all the stories in the book were of Chinese immersed somehow in the culture elite of the country, those with whom Lord would come into contact. I want to know if their experiences were the norm for Chinese, or more prevalent of their contemporaries. The end of book came too abruptly for me, the two main stories, that of China and one of its daughters, remaining unfinished. Both their continuing stories will make for interesting lives, conversations, and books for the future.
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