Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular best seller that has sold more than 13 million copies, a critically acclaimed history of China, a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty, and an uplifting story of bravery and survival. Through the story of three generations of women in her own family - the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist mother, and the daughter herself - Jung Chang reveals the epic history of China's 20th century. Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this masterpiece is extraordinary in every way.
©2011 Jung Chang (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"An inspiring tale of women who survived every kind of hardship, deprivation and political upheaval with their humanity intact." (Hillary Clinton, in O, The Oprah Magazine)
"Wild Swans is riveting. It's blindingly good: a mad adventure story, a fairy tale of courage, and a tale of atrocities. You can't, as they say, put it down. (The New Yorker)
The author uses the story of 3 generations or her family to reveal the story of China.
It was a tapestry that included both the personal and political histories of a place that has been shrouded in mystery.
The 3 generations of women in this book had such different lives and times, yet all of it is true. Those of us from the West can learn much from this reading, not just about history but about humanity. There is a lot of detail, which occasionally gets tedious but it helps the listener understand the difficulties the women and their families endured. How I admire their stoicism and fortitude!! I was glad that there was a nice outcome for Jung and her Mom, and the brothers too. I have been to China and will be there again soon. It is an amazing and interesting place, and the insights I gained in this book will no doubt affect me while I am there.
I made several attempts to finish listening to this book, but couldn't do it. The story line is dull and made even worse by the narrator. She was very monotonous and seemed bored with the story as well. Would return it if I could.
"Amazing historical memoir of 20th century China told through the lives of 4 generations of Chinese women."
I enjoy historical fiction because I can learn so much about a period while being swept up in a good story. This book had all that and more because it was not fiction but memoir. The author's account of 20th century China through the tragic but inspiring lives of 4 generations of Chinese women was engaging and compelling. For most Americans, the world has been painted in vet black and white terms - communism is bad and anything that counters it is good. I found it very interesting to learn how the promise of communism wa so appealing in the early 20th century to many who suffered under the oppression of feudal China, and the corruption and brutality of the post WWII government. This was particularly true for women who were essentially treated as property. The author's first hand accounts of the all encompassing cult of Mao and the devastating repression of the Cultural Revolution were profound and shed light on how a demagogue like Mao was able to abuse his power and control the lives of millions by using those same victims as his weapons of destruction. It is no surprise that this book is still banned in China today.
This story tells us about three generations of a family with unbelievable personal details on their experience in such and enticing way not included in history books. At each step, I wondered what will happen next. Too bad the voice narrating was way too flat. The subject deserved a better narrator.
No, her voice is way too flat without emotion. The only reason I continued to listening was because the story was great and wanted to learn what happened next.
The content is interesting - it is a fascinating period of history. However, the writing style was painfully dull, and detracted from what could have been a 5 star book.
The writing lacked color and style. It read like a newspaper report, giving facts, but devoid of any real beauty in the use of language.
The narrator of The Valley Of Amazement would have been excellent. Osmanski's speaking voice is irritating, and interfered with my attempts to stay interested in the book.
I would have returned this, but for some reason it was marked "ineligible for return." Overall, I am sorry I bought this.
This is an excellent book and narration. Books on Chinese history by Chinese authors who write from personal experience are rare. Well written books, like this one, are rare also.
The vastness of suffering the human race goes through is only equal to the vastness of greatness and love we, humans, are blessed with. My family lived in China, near Shanghai, for three years. Our accounts with local citizens and travels around this gorgeous country helped us to fall in love with it. But the books I had read to acquaint myself with my new surroundings did not help me to understand the Great Dragon. I wish this book crossed my reading path back in 2009.
The story tells the lives of three generations of females, from early 20th century with its bound feet, concubines and Japanese occupation to the collapse of the Rule of Four and author's journey to the West. All three lives and seasons of the development - may I say, decline,- of China were shared gracefully, but it was Communism that created this heart-wrenching story, more or less common to almost every (!) Chinese family.
Although I had always known that China's Communism was a more brutal force than the Soviet Union's one; although I had read numerous accounts on the Cultural Revolution; although I had instantly made parallels between life under Mao and Orwell's 1984 and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 dystopian novels: only Wild Swans memoir fully opened up to me the abyss of drama of wrongfully accused, tortured, oppressed people, who were stripped not only from their centuries-old culture, but from humanity itself while forced to compete viciously for destroyed by mis-managed resources while dying in millions- tens of millions!- from hunger and prosecution.
Mao's China is no more. The China we know now is a place even Jung Chang, the author of Wild Swans, now a citizen of the UK can visit, despite the book being prohibited in her motherland. But Mao is looking at his people from a huge portrait on the wall, surrounding his mausoleum in the very heart of the capital, Tiananmen Square. And visas for some outspoken people are denied: just last month Miss World Anastasia Lin (Canada) could not enter to compete in the beauty pageant.
This is the reason alone to read Wild Swans.
And the other reason - to once again confirm, that greatness of character, purity of the soul and true love do exist, and survive even in the darkest, unimaginable hardship.
Sometimes, we only find piece and truth on the other side of the veil. But even that gives enough hope to go on.
Eye opening story
This is a history, no one scene is my favorite.
This book shines a light on Communism. It opens the window of what really happened in China.
In order to keep from repeating the horrors of past history, we must be aware of it. This is not a new book but a very relevant book for our times now in 2015.
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