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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

by Jung Chang

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,2801581,022 (4.14)1 / 457
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.
  1. 20
    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Jennie_103)
    Jennie_103: Another story of generations of chinese women.
  2. 31
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (ominogue)
  3. 00
    A Mother's Ordeal: One Woman's Fight Against China's One-Child Policy by Steven W. Mosher (inbedwithbooks)
  4. 00
    A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: A fictional story of three generations of Chinese American women who travel back to China together.
  5. 00
    Wild Ginger by Anchee Min (mcenroeucsb)
  6. 00
    Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now by Jan Wong (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Another interesting memoir about a young woman's excitement and then disillusionment at Mao's China.
  7. 00
    Eighth Moon: The True Story of a Young Girl's Life in Communist China by Bette Lord (MarthaJeanne)

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 2014 Category Challenge: Wild Swans Group Read24 unread / 24Helenliz, June 2014

» See also 457 mentions

English (128)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (6)  German (4)  French (2)  Swedish (2)  Italian (1)  Japanese (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
I always love this kinds of accounts. It is history made personable. Maybe I was a bit too young when I read this (early teens) and I couldn't quite cope with intense scenes of warfare. However, I do remember that I felt througoutly engaged and at the same time learning a lot about China. ( )
  Twisk | Oct 2, 2023 |
Here's what I wrote about this read in 2009: "Non-Fiction. Biography of the author, her mother, and grandmother from the final day of Imperial China through China post Cultural-Revolution. Educational, and ultimately inspirational due to the three women's strengths, capabilities, successes during a the highly turbulent years forming the modern China." ( )
  MGADMJK | Aug 16, 2023 |
Last year I read Mao The Untold Story by June Chang and could tell tight from the start it was a hatchet job. She was angry at the atrocities he committed and was out to condemn him right from the start. So what made reading Wild Swans such a surprising and fascinating read was that both Jung Chang and most of her family were actually high ranking officials in the Red Guard and devout followers of Mao. Watching them come to realisation that their idol was actually a sadistic monster gave this work a much more personal and compelling feel. I read this book on my iPad and Highlighted many troubling passages. I'll end with the one that frightened me the most

"But Mao's theory might just be the extension of his personality. He was it seemed to me, really a restless fight promoter by nature, and good at it. He understood ugly human instincts such as envy and resentment, and knew how to mobilise them for his ends. He ruled by getting people to hate each other. In doing so, he got ordinary Chinese to carry out many of the things undertaken in other dictatorships by professional elites. Mao had managed to turn the people into the ultimate weapon of dictatorship. That was why under him there was no real equivalent of the KGB in China. There was no need. In bringing out and nourishing the worst in people, Mao created a moral wasteland and a land of hatred. But how much individual responsibility ordinary people should share, I could not decide."

Remind you of anyone ? ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
Fascinating personal story and great way to access the modern history of China for those of us with no real familiarity with it. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
This is an incredible book, in many places scarcely believable. It covers so much ground, and the pace of change in China during that period is unbelievable. I had read it many years ago and still clearly remembered the early passages on foot-binding. The twists and turns of the Communist Party, the failed policies, the famine, the constant purges are told from a position of relative privilege within the structure, but this only protects the authors family up to a point. I was struck by the madness of things like Mao trying to purge all the grass in China and schools being turned over to collecting metal to melt down. It's a really fascinating book. ( )
  AlisonSakai | May 6, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chang, Jungprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castelli Gair, GianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castelli-Gair Hombría, GianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chu-tanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gair, Gian CastelliTranslatorsecondary 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
First words
At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China.
[Author's Note] My name "Jung" is pronounced "Yung."
[Epilogue] I have made London my home.
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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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.

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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.
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