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Wild Swans by Jung Chang
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Wild Swans (original 1991; edition 2004)

by Jung Chang

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6,024116691 (4.13)1 / 338
Member:SaraJudith
Title:Wild Swans
Authors:Jung Chang
Info:Harpercollins Audio (2004), Edition: Abridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Work details

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

Recently added byprivate library, lilianboerboom, Bulevares, JosinevH, arenie5000, siok, BethlynnD, WilCeron, Lhachwen
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English (91)  Dutch (9)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (115)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
N.F. True
daughters of China — excelled @ Cultural Rev. — Mao - till today

An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.
  christinejoseph | Mar 22, 2016 |
A fascinating story that taught me much about China. But the book could use some editing. When a second book club chose to read it a couple of years later, I opted NOT to re-read it. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 9, 2016 |
Contributes to our understanding of Chinese culture. The family is the story. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This contains spoilers.

Wild Swans is the memior of Jung Chang's childhood in China during the Cultural Revolution, but it's not only about her. She begins with the story of her grandmother.

Jung Chang's grandmother was a concubine to a warlord. She had to use charm and wit to keep herself safe from being held prisoner by the warlord's family - as she was considered the property of the warlord and of his legitimate wives. Upon her warlord's death, she made the very difficult decision to marry, which caused many problems for her, her new husband, and potentially her afterlife (in which her husband and warlord would cut her in half to share her). This story delves into great detail about the strife that Jung Chang's grandmother had to overcome. Now that I'm familiar with how foot binding works I will shudder every time I hear mention of it. I never realized....

The next section of the book is about Jung Chang's mother, who grew up mainly during the strife between her mother and her stepfather's family. WWII was also raging, which meant occupation and brutalization by the Japanese. (This was the most difficult section for me to read.) Once the Japanese occupation ended, their country was ruled by tyranny, thus bringing on the communist uprising. Jung Chang's mother became deeply involved in the Communist Party while very young, but felt betrayed by The Party by the time she was pregnant with her first child.

The final section talks about Jung Chang's childhood, watching the Communist Party emotionally and physically torture those around her, including her parents. She vividly portrays the original innocence that she had - believing in the communist party and Mao's propaganda. Slowly, gently, she began to emerge from this innocence. More gracefully than would be expected, given what was going on around her. That speaks to the power of Mao's campaign.

This was a fascinating and beautifully written book. It's written lovingly, yet it's brutally honest. The research is so amazing that every once in a while I wondered "how does she know that?" Her years' worth of research definitely paid off. This book deserves the fantastic worldwide sales that it has received. I am tempted to read Jung Chang's biography of Mao pretty soon. ( )
1 vote The_Hibernator | Jan 25, 2016 |
Loved this book, a real eye-opener to life in China at this time. These women struggled but stayed determined until the end ( )
  Tony2704 | Mar 17, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jung Changprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castelli Gair, GianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castelli-Gair Hombría, GianTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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.
Quotations
With luck, one could fall in love after getting married
They had been brought up in the fanatical personality cult of Mao and the militant doctrine of "class struggle".  They were endowed with the qualities of youth - they were rebellious, fearless, eager to fight for a "just cause", thirsty for adventure and action.  They were also irresponsible, ignorant and easy to manipulate - and prone to violence.
When I came home that afternoon, I found my father in the kitchen. He had lit a fire in the big cement sink, and was hurling his books into the flames.
This was the first time in my life I had seen him weeping. It was agonized, broken, and wild, the weeping of a man who was not used to shedding tears. Every now and then, in fits of violent sobs, he stamped his feet on the floor and banged his head against the wall.
... My father had spent every spare penny on his books. They were his life. After the bonfire, I could tell that something had happened to his mind.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:53 -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 11 descriptions

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