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Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Wild Swans (original 1991; edition 2004)

by Jung Chang

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5,581None767 (4.12)1 / 263
Title:Wild Swans
Authors:Jung Chang
Info:Harpercollins Audio (2004), Edition: Abridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library

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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang (1991)

1001 (41) 1001 books (46) 20th century (80) Asia (43) Asian (19) autobiography (247) biography (475) China (896) Chinese (62) Chinese History (78) Chinese literature (18) communism (116) Cultural Revolution (143) family (39) family history (21) fiction (143) historical (34) history (353) literature (30) Mao (63) memoir (273) non-fiction (387) novel (22) own (23) politics (36) read (49) Roman (38) to-read (89) unread (34) women (124)
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Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang is the story of three generations of women and covers most of the 20th Century with all of China’s upheavals and political unrest as it affected one family. These three women include the author herself, who now lives in the United Kingdom., her mother who was a Communist and tried very hard to live her life according to the party line, and her grandmother who, at a young age, was given away as a concubine to a warlord and suffered the shame of this for the rest of her life.

Focusing on these women’s lives, Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China, tells a unique and harrowing story. Although I had a basic knowledge of many of these events, it was the small, personal things that I found most riveting. This book is densely packed with events, information, names and places. I found both the family tree and the map of China at the back of the book very helpful.

Although I thought this was a very well done book, I can’t help but wonder how biased and/or slanted the stories are. These are one author’s views, but they certainly help pull open the curtain and shed light on this mysterious country. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 10, 2014 |
I read this a long time ago, I cannot write a fair review. This is the story of three generations of women in China and presents the history of China through their lives. What I remembered most is that the Chinese people feared to think because they might say something out loud that would be heard. This was a crazy world they lived in. I recommend this book every chance I get. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Wow! You can read all the history of modern China from the history books and never come to realize what it meant for the people who lived through it. Chang takes you on the daily path of people who were so affected by the very policies that they carried out. Chang's family was privileged but privilege didn't bring comfort. This is a story of China from the last days of foot binding and concubines through the Communist takeover, through the absurd days of Mao and the Gang of Four, and finally to the late 1970's and the beginnings of a more open China. At the same time this is a story of a family. Add to the normal flow of love and conflict that make any family the policies of a government that attempted to totally control every aspect of everyday life. The strength for this family to endure is nothing short of a miracle.

The story of the Wild Swans deserves a ten star; I gave four because there are times that the writing does almost become too complicated and detailed especially since the Chinese names are difficult for me to remember. And at times, words just seems very awkward (perhaps this is due to English being a second language for the author). I did appreciate the map, the time line, and the chapter titles along with the dates. In short, this book is a fascinating read of a place that few of us can imagine. Along with other books, I read this as a preparation for a trip to China; I know that this one has definitely made an impression and will provide a different perspective than I would have had. Highly recommended. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 22, 2013 |
Summary: Three generations of Chinese women are portrayed in this true story. How grateful I am for the freedoms I enjoy as a woman living in America, what tragedy and oppression the women of China have experienced for such a long time. ( )
  6boysandme | Jul 16, 2013 |
A great story of three women amid the backdrop of 20th century China. ( )
  bradleybleck | Jun 4, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jung Changprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chu-tanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hout, Bert Willem van derCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Syrier, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my grandmother and my father who did not live to see this book
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At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China.
With luck, one could fall in love after getting married
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Wikipedia in English (10)

Book description
Alleen schrijvers met een uitzonderlijk talent lukt het om grote historische gebeurtenissen zo te beschrijven dat de lezer diep geëmotioneerd raakt. Een schrijver moet ook over veel overtuigings- en verbeeldingskracht beschikken om de lezer deelgenoot te maken van de gevoelens die de personages beheersen. Over dat talent beschikt de Chinese schrijfster Jung Chang. In Wilde zwanen, drie dochters van China vertelt zij de buitengewone levensgeschiedenis van haar grootmoeder, concubine van een generaal in het feodale China; en ten slotte het indrukwekkende verhaal hoe zij zelf als jong meisje in China opgroeide. Wilde zwanen geeft een panoramische visie van drie vrouwen op een complexe samenleving in de vorm van intieme memoires, prachtige portretten en verteld als een meeslepende kroniek van het twintigste-eeuwse China. En ondanks de haast onvoorstelbare gruwelen die de familie van Jung Chang ten deel zijn gevallen en die door de auteur op bijna onderkoelde manier worden beschreven, is Wilde zwanen een indrukwekkende getuigenis van optimistisch geloof in een rechtvaardige samenleving met gelijke rechten en gelijke kansen voor ieder individu.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743246985, Paperback)

In Wild Swans Jung Chang recounts the evocative, unsettling, and insistently gripping story of how three generations of women in her family fared in the political maelstrom of China during the 20th century. Chang's grandmother was a warlord's concubine. Her gently raised mother struggled with hardships in the early days of Mao's revolution and rose, like her husband, to a prominent position in the Communist Party before being denounced during the Cultural Revolution. Chang herself marched, worked, and breathed for Mao until doubt crept in over the excesses of his policies and purges. Born just a few decades apart, their lives overlap with the end of the warlords' regime and overthrow of the Japanese occupation, violent struggles between the Kuomintang and the Communists to carve up China, and, most poignant for the author, the vicious cycle of purges orchestrated by Chairman Mao that discredited and crushed millions of people, including her parents.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:28 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A Chinese woman chronicles the struggle of her grandmother, her mother, and herself to survive in a China torn apart by wars, invasions, revolution, and continuing upheaval, from 1907 to the present.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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