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The Living Reed by Pearl S. Buck
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The Living Reed (1963)

by Pearl S. Buck

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is the story of Korea's domination by China and then Japan from about 1880 to the end of WWII, concluding with the North being dominated by the Russia communists. I love Pearl Buck's novels of China, but this one was just not quite as good as The Good Earth or A House Divided, although it was a readable generational struggle for survival. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Apr 11, 2017 |
This beautiful novel is a work of art. You can feel the beauty of the country and the spirit of its people as you read it. It amazes me that Buck was able to immerse herself so thoroughly into so many different cultures.

At the same time, this is a devastating novel. It's no wonder that Korea hates the rest of the world, and if the U.S. treated other countries the way we treated Korea, it's no wonder that the rest of the world hates us. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
In the 70's, I read quite a few of Pearl S Buck's novels. From time to time, I still pick them up when I see them in a used book store. This one has been living on Planet TBR since 2007.

This is a family epic of Korea. It followed three generations of a family beginning with Il-Han, an advisor and scholar to the queen in the 1880's.

When the queen is assassinated by Japanese forces and Korea occupied by Japan we see the son, a resistance leader code named The Living Reed, eventually being overcome and like many young Korean fighters, fleeing to China, where he took part in the communist revolution there. Eventually he returns to Korea, and sees the heartbreak of the country arbitrarily divided by US and Russian administered zones after the ending of WW II.

The central character of the book, however, is Korean history. I honestly didn't have much knowledge of this region and learned a lot. Korea has been coveted as a stepping stone by Russia, China and Japan for centuries. During the rise of the Western Powers, many Koreans looked to Woodrow Wilson and the US to help them in their struggle for independence. It was a vain hope; time after time the US let the Korean hopes down.

Still Korea itself resembles the living reed, bamboo, springing up in strange places after appearing dead, bending but not breaking.

It was a slow book to get through, but I thought it was well worth the time. ( )
  streamsong | Oct 7, 2014 |
Mrs. Buck, who is most famous for writing richly detailed historical fiction about China, turns her efforts towards Korea, from the 19th century to 1945. A novel as good as any of hers - a good story, and a good insight into the lives of a people, as well. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
A wonderful, detailed history of Korea from 1883 to 1960, through the eyes of a Korean noble family. Very heartbreaking yet heartwarming as they struggle through Japanese occupation from 1905 to 1945. It beautifully portrays the struggle for independence within Korea as they fought their own fractious nature to define themselves as Korean in the midst of the powerful nations of China, Russia, and Japan. ( )
  jjvors | Jul 15, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pearl S. Buckprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marchetti, LouCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The spirit of Korea is embodied in the lives of the influential Kim family, from the splendid era of Queen Min to the climactic days of World War.

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