“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times.... Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.” (Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa”)
Ping Fu knows what it’s like to be a child soldier, a factory worker, and a political prisoner. To be beaten and raped for the crime of being born into a well-educated family. To be deported with barely enough money for a plane ticket to a bewildering new land. To start all over, without family or friends, as a maid, waitress, and student.
Ping Fu also knows what it’s like to be a pioneering software programmer, an innovator, a CEO, and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. To be a friend and mentor to some of the best-known names in technology. To build some of the coolest new products in the world. To give speeches that inspire huge crowds. To meet and advise the president of the United States.
It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds.
Born on the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution, Ping was separated from her family at the age of eight. She grew up fighting hunger and humiliation and shielding her younger sister from the teenagers in Mao’s Red Guard. At 25, she found her way to the United States; her only resources were $80 in traveler’s checks and three phrases of English: 'thank you', 'hello', and 'help'.
Yet Ping persevered, and the hard-won lessons of her childhood guided her to success in her new homeland. Aided by her well-honed survival instincts, a few good friends, and the kindness of strangers, she grew into someone she never thought she’d be - a strong, independent, entrepreneurial leader. A love of problem-solving led her to computer science, and Ping became part of the team that created NCSA Mosaic, which became Netscape, the Web browser that forever changed how we access information. She then started a company, Geomagic, that has literally reshaped the world, from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repairing NASA spaceships.
Bend, Not Break depicts a journey from imprisonment to freedom, and from the dogmatic anti-capitalism of Mao’s China to the high-stakes, take-no-prisoners world of technology start-ups in the United States. It is a tribute to one woman’s courage in the face of cruelty and a valuable lesson on the enduring power of resilience.
©2012 Ping Fu and MeiMei Fox (P)2012 Penguin Audio
Retired Forensic Artist
This is an incredible story. This is a true account that is as good as any Horatio Alger story with a heroine with a spirit and strength of a Scarlett O’Hara. Who would have thought that the biography of this, “Little Apple “ that takes us from the harsh world of the Chinese Cultural Revolution to the world of the entrepreneur would become a wonderful contemporary story. This is a story full of a menagerie of fascinating characters. From the wisdom of Shanghai Papa to stranger’s spontaneous acts of kindness this book weaves a fascinating tale.
Be prepared to set aside time to listen this audio book. Once you begin to hear the story you will not be able to stop, each chapter as exciting as the last.
This book is an incredible story of resilliance during Mao's reign in China. It flashes back and forth between Ping's time in America and her growing up years in China. I am normally not a big fan of this biographical style, but it actually works well here, with an American life being transposed with Chinese life... very well done.
While I am normally a big fan of Robin Miles, her as the choice of narrator is an unusual one. This is not her best performance, stilted in spots, and having an African-American reading a Chinese biography is a bit odd. However, I have to say that Robin Miles on her worst day is better than many narrators on their best.
Enjoy this rich biography!
Listening to the life story and all Ping had overcome.
Her story about how mountain tops are different perspectives and how each of in order to get to the next mountain peak, we must first go down to rise up again.
Character & Voice
This book touches me. From the beautiful reading by Robin to the swaying back and forth through time as Ping narrates her life in a brutal revolution and a successful US business. I feel enriched by listening. I also appreciate the opportunity to evaluate the benefits of a Chinese woman's unique strengths as a CEO.
The incredible journey of Ping's life absolutely captured my attention. It also gave me a glimpse into Chinese history that I was not familiar with. I absolutely loved hearing about her incredible resilience, strength and perseverance in all aspects of her life.
It is incredible to hear how much she accomplished given how little she had as a child and through her teenage years.
I love that she made a life for herself in spite of the atrocities and circumstances in her life. She did not break.
She is an inspiration to me.
The honesty, vulnerability and humility.
Beautifully narrated, her reading was personal and inviting.
Yes, and yes, as any well lived life does.
This is nonfiction that reads like fiction - a storyline in winding, powerful currents, myriad, elegantly constructed settings, and a host of characters displaying the best and worst of their humanities. At the same time it is an informative and inspiring record of Maoist China, dot-com America, immigrant life, technology, business, and perhaps most of all, what a life can be made to be.
I enjoyed the insights into how people surmount major challenges and build competence and resilience. The narrator did a good job, but she sometimes sounded so staid and serious that there was a little more that I found myself wishing for. I have read reviews that say not everything might be true in the book. I do not know if this is so, but I have learned much from the recounted experiences. I am also inspired by the analogy of the fir tree, plum blossom, and bamboo used in the book.
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