This is a remarkable story of how one man survived the Gulags (aka concentration camps) of North Korea. Whether it be talking about swallowing live salamanders, hunting rats to eat, or attempting to steal an officer's rabbit, this book is full of bizarre, entertaining, horrifying, yet undeniably engrossing accounts of what life is like under the "Dear Leader" and the North Korean regime and how one man could bravely escape his fate.
The narration was done my Stephen Park who did a fantastic job.
Was great to hear the author's voice even though the production quality wasn't all that great.
I have been a fan of Xu Zhimo ever since I read his most famous poem "Saying Good-bye to Cambridge Again." It's a beautiful poem and even more beautiful in Chinese. My favorite stanza:
"Very quietly I take my leave,
As quietly as I came here;
Gently I flick my sleeves,
Not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away."
His poetry is so enchanting, beautiful, fluid.
Well, you can imagine that I was surprised to find out that he's actually kind of a jerk and an irresponsible father.
This book is about the first wife of the famous Xu Zhimo as told by her grand niece, Natasha Chang. It followed Zhang YouYi's hardships and how she dealt with betrayal, loss, and the ever-changing time period that she lived in.
The narrative is very well crafted and her grand niece does an excellent job in putting her own reflections without taking away from the main objective of the story. There was just enough of her voice but not too much to distract. She's a good story-teller.
This is a good read for those who are interested in the history and development of modern China and the thought process of those living in that period.
The amazing thing about family histories are that they follow one story and so you learn about history through a very focused lens, enough to interest a variety of readers. Stories are the most powerful tools of retelling history.
This is a great audio book to listen to while you're cleaning. I've learned so many organization and de-clutter principles from this book. A lot of people may think that you need to read this book after there is a problem, but I think this is a book everyone should read BEFORE there is a problem. I don't particularly think I currently have hoarding tendencies and I live in a 1 bedroom apartment, but I know the tendencies run in my genes and I definitely could see myself doing some of the horrendous things mentioned in this book. So I'm glad I listened to this audio book as a way of pre-intervention. My favorite principle was: "one toy in, one toy out" or "1 new pair of shoes in, one pair of old shoes out" etc... I got so inspired that I went on massive spring cleaning mode and finally battled the war under my bed. This is a book that you can re-read every few years for inspiration. I think this is one of those books every one needs to read at least once.
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