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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

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Book Overview

The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history--a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than ten... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Amazing shocking beautifully written with courage.

One of BEST BOOKS I've ever read author shares the secrets of most horrible tortures and desths of over 80 milliin Chinese. My heart breaks as I read what I never knew the Chinese had to endure. Jung is very courageous to tell her family's story and I'm so very grateful to her. Reading this has deeply affected my heart.

I can relate to Jung Chang closely

Though 6 years her junior, I can relate to Jung Chang closely. My own father was labeled as rightist in 1958, the year I was born. Her story reflects the lives of millions of families in China during those years. I read her book with an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes I had to put down the book to wipe tears off my eyes, and sometimes I had to stop reading the book for a few days till I could resume reading it again. I couldn't stop thinking of my own parents, my grandparents, and my generation. It's a great book about a short span of Chinese history, part of which I lived through and which I hope will never be repeated.

Review of Jung Chang's Wild Swans

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. by Jung Chang. (New York: Simon & Schuster 2003) Wild Swans was written in 1991 by Jung Chang, a Chinese woman now living in England. In 1988, Chang's mother visited her daughter in Britain and told her the in-depth story of her own life and the life of her mother, Chang's grandmother, through China's turbulent 20th century. In the introduction, Chang reveals that she had always felt an inclination to write, and her mother's revelations and encouragement gave her a broad topic, and incentive. The story chronicles her family over three generations in post-imperialist and Communist China. The book illustrates not only the experiences of Chang's family, but also provides an outline of the changing political and social climate in China during the 20th Century. Wild Swans is effective as a passionate memoir and as an historical reference. Wild Swans begins with a description of Chang's grandmother's life in Manchuria during the warlord era, after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. Chang's grandmother lives for some time as a concubine to a warlord general with whom she has one daughter. She is confronted by the trials of raising a daughter in a culture and era in which women had little to no say in their own lives and those of their children. Living in Manchuria, Chang's mother grew up under the political authority of the Japanese and then the Kuomintang. Chang's mother yearned for a sense of pride in her country and for equality among Chinese. She joined the Communist cause in her mid-teens with the belief that the party could unite the country and bring justice and equality to the people. Chang's mother and father, a young Communist official, met and fell just as the government of China changed hands. They were married and given posts in the newly established Communist government. Chang herself was born three years after the birth of the People's Republic. The trials of Chang and her family, her father, mother and five siblings, through the various campaigns and purges of the Communist Era, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution become the main focus of the novel, which ends when Chang accepts a scholarship to study abroad in England. Wild Swans provides an inside view of how the good intentions of China's Communist party were twisted and distorted in such as way that they eventually led to the torment and persecution of many of its members. The Chang family is hounded in campaign after campaign to rid the country of the influence of anyone deemed to have capitalist aspirations or connections. Chang uses the experiences of her family as a jumping off point to describe the ridiculous criteria used to determine who these `counterrevolutionaries' were, and the suffering and heartache these campaigns caused millions of Chinese. As well as describing her own experiences and those of her family, Chang includes short stories of the experiences of people in different social positions including pea

it blew me away

I can't believe more people don't know about this incredible book. It's beautifully written and tremendously informative. I agree with the reviewer below who said that it's the best book on 20th century China. And what a movie it would make if done right. Still, I'm taking away from the book itself -- if you think it's tough reading Holocaust literature, try this -- the Japanese and the Chinese committed the most horrible tortures and crimes on each other you can imagine, yet the author dwells on the hope and the love of her family despite the horrors she recounts. One of the most moving books you'll ever read.

Truly touched and inspired

When I sat down with Wild Swans, I had no expectations but to be informed and entertained by what I hoped would be a good book. I read to gain a personal understanding of the world in which we live through accounts and examples given by others of things I would never be able to experience first-hand. Never have I read a book that drew me in so powerfully and personally as Ms. Chang's Wild Swans. Wild Swans is epic in it's historical backdrop moving untirelessly through the last century of China, roughly between the years 1911 and 1976, but this is no textbook. You will never feel as though you just entered a lecture hall and are sitting through a journalistic or pedantic analysis of these turbulent times. This is the story of the author Jung Chang, her mother, and her grandmother. It is through their lives that history unfolds and is exposed. From the end of Imperial China, through Japanese occupation, the Nationalist movement, the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communists, Communist takeover, Mao's Great Leap Forward starving tens of millions to death, the Cultural Revolution turning a national identity upon it's head and breaking it's collective spirit in the process, to Mao Zedong's death, you will be amazed at what you learn in this book about the capacity of the heart to perservere and triumph. I couldn't help but to feel ashamed at the provincial life we are handed in our land of freedom, and at once be thankful that we are so endowed. Jung Chang explores her family so deeply that her subjects, such as her stoic father, a true beliver in the Communist cause, and her grandmother, a veritable symbol through her bound feet of a time and place long gone, become indelibly etched upon the mind of the reader. By the end of Wild Swans, you will feel you know China and Ms. Chang and her family intimately. This book fulfills whatever you set out to obtain or attain when you devote time to reading. If you have never been afraid to crack a book, let this fall into your hands, enter your heart, and enrich your life and in the end, thank Jung Chang for opening your eyes. Thank you, Chang Jung.

A magnificent work

I'm deeply moved by this book. Thank Jung Chang for writing such a great book.I am from Mainland China. I came to U.S for graduate study five years ago. I felt difficult to breathe when I closed the book because it reminds me the stories of my family in china. The similar thing happened to them, not so worse than Ms. Chang's, but also painful and intolerable. They experienced the collapse of Qing dynasty, warlord chaos, Japanese invasion, civil war and communist control. My parents moved from Shanghai to an inland small town with dedicated hearts to communist party in 1956 but they suffered all the time. They are must ordinary people. My mother is as old as Jung Chang's mother - Hong, there were endless meetings against her in each of political movements in 20 years. My mom is not a party member, working in a factory as a product planning staff. She was badly treated only because she was from a landlord family and with a oversea sister. My grandfather, my father suffered similar spiritual torture. My home was searched several times in Culture Revoluation, almost all books, magzines and jewelry (including the wedding ring of my parents) are burned or confiscated.A few months after I was born in 1968, my father was sent to "Cadre school" (kind of labor camp) to receive re-education. My uncle was marked as "rightist" in 1957 and his whole family was discriminated all the time until 1978. My elder sister went to the countryside too and her annul wage was merely 50 pounds of yams and 200 pounds of wheat.I didn't suffer so much compared with my parents and my sisters. Everything is getting better since 1978. I was a good student and went to college with many dreams. Again, in 1989, the gunshot and blood in Tianmen Square broke them all prior to my graduation.The history of china is like a cycle: the periodic construction and destruction. My heart is saying I should go back to my homeland, but who knows I can avoid the same fates of my parents?In fact, I read Wild Swans in Chinese first. I happened to borrow it from my local library east Asia section, it's translated to Chinese and published by Taiwan. I can't stop reading when I opened the book. All the depiction is like real life movie floating before my eyes. I highly recommend it that's why I browse your website to get a original version for myself and for my American friends.
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