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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China | [Jung Chang]

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular best seller which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an uplifting story of bravery and survival.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (354 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.3 (298 )
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Story
4.3 (298 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    raku 09-09-12
    raku 09-09-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awesome Epic"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend this to some friends with similar interests


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    None


    What aspect of Joy Osmanski’s performance would you have changed?

    She has a very harsh tone. Soften it a bit please. It is hard listening to her for long


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 09-09-12
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 09-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    301
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    282
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    "Life in China - One family's story"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the fact that the political and family dynamics were explained well. For someone such as myself who had very little exposure to modern Chinese history it was great that the author explained this. If she hadn't, I doubt I would have understood why her family was treated the way they were


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    One reviewer earlier put it that it was like having a teacher read to you. THis description is apt. I think it both assisted in the educational aspect of this autobiography, while removing the emotional components.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book made me angry, particularly toward the middle, where the obvious betrayal of those who gave all for the government were summarily betrayed. The ending was fitting, hopeful, and the epilogue helped explain what happened later, which didn't leave us hanging


    Any additional comments?

    An important family history, wonderfully descriptive. Worth the read if the narration doesn't distract you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Padden mission, BC, Canada 08-22-12
    Padden mission, BC, Canada 08-22-12 Member Since 2013

    I started reading eight years ago. I like medical, legal, and historical fiction. Biographies are sometimes interesting too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historical with real characters"

    This was an eye opener into the history of China and the changes in government that impacted the lives of the Chinese. A very good insight into the beliefs and values of these people as well as their strengths in facing their many trials.

    Not like a history book but very informative. I was drawn into the book immediately.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley Kingwood, Texas, United States 08-06-12
    Shelley Kingwood, Texas, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2015
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "History Comes Alive"
    What made the experience of listening to Wild Swans the most enjoyable?

    Joy's voice in telling the story. It seemed that I was sitting in her living room and listening to her tell a story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the way the author intertwined her personal story with the history of China


    Have you listened to any of Joy Osmanski’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    This is a "must read" if you are traveling to China and want to understand how the country evolved to where it is today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Chicago, IL, United States 07-26-12
    Maria Chicago, IL, United States 07-26-12 Member Since 2010

    The Q :While I drive, on public transportation, when there is a need to tune everyone out and transport myself to another place, another time...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Make time for this book!"
    What made the experience of listening to Wild Swans the most enjoyable?

    This is just an eye-opening read. I knew nothing of China - and now have some insight into a closed world. One can not imagine a family traversing such change, personal challenge, physical and mental strife - and it is not a single moment in their lives but a day after day, year after year for decades. It is one of the most intense human dramas I have ever read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The relationship between the generations of the women. Although all 3 lives were amazingly different - , there is this bond of diamond strength between them. One instinctlively knows they could not possibly have agreed or even understood, the decisions made, yet there is a deep understanding, respect and support. I came across admiring each for their personal strength and courage during the most dire of times and events. Their life's course is something that is completely foreign to me - yet I was absorbed, absorbed, absorbed. I would read and think, it can't get any worse, and then this family would take another hit. Ms. Chang writes so wonderfully, even though this is her story, she seeks not sympathy but understanding with historical perspective and personal experience.

    The story of the famine period was just shocking. A continuation of man's inhumanity to man. I am saddened by my own ignorance of Mao's China.


    Have you listened to any of Joy Osmanski’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Haven't listened to any of Joy's other performances - would like to. Liked her pace and inflection.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Simply surviving in their world takes warrior strength.


    Any additional comments?

    Young women should read to get an intimate understanding of what women have had to go through to survive. Especially in Western culture we take our freedoms for granted and need to be more reflective of what came before us. These women's stories take place in the not so distant past, and we need to understand their decisions, and honor their struggles.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom SEATTLE, WA, United States 07-04-12
    Tom SEATTLE, WA, United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2014

    Tom

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    "A must listen."
    What did you love best about Wild Swans?

    Any one interested in China or with Chinese friends should listen to this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edna Brighton, ON, Canada 05-14-12
    Edna Brighton, ON, Canada 05-14-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    17
    3
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    Story
    "Read it rather than listen."
    What did you like best about Wild Swans? What did you like least?

    I did not like it at all because of the narrator. the book is written as a narrative and it comes across like a school teacher reading to her class. I found it hard to connect to the drama of the story. The lack of dialogue requires an exceptional reader to bring this story to life and this reader was far from exceptional. Obviously the book is full of interesting history but her lecturing style was bland and boring.


    What other book might you compare Wild Swans to and why?

    Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See, These were absolutely spellbinding and provided good depictions of recent Chinese history


    Would you be willing to try another one of Joy Osmanski’s performances?

    Definitely not!! I already wasted a credit on this one.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This was highly recommended to me as a good read and I am sorry I did not buy the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitzi D. Minnesota 04-29-14
    Mitzi D. Minnesota 04-29-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Too long for me..."
    What did you like best about Wild Swans? What did you like least?

    I lost interest and didn't finish it.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something darker or with more action.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes. I thought the narration was fine.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    danielle 01-30-13
    danielle 01-30-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "Unfortunately needs an editor"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book. It was almost too painful to listen to. The book was informative about the nightmare of this era, and of course I felt terrible for these women and admired that they survived as they did, but I found the minutiae numbing and the details of their personal lives and humiliations embarrassing .


    What was most disappointing about Jung Chang’s story?

    I found the extreme faithfulness to the chronological narrative led to a great amount of repetition. If something happened in 1959, and again in 1962 and again in 1968, such as the parents' relationship difficulties or the trends of the organized persecution, it was presented in equal detail every time. How many times did the mother become disappointed with the father putting party first? After all these occasions of essentially the same fight the mother seemed more surprised than I was at his responses.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator was clear and seemed very comfortable with names and places, but tended to make everything sound equally important. Descriptions of the grandmother's garden were read with the same tone as "My mother never forgave my father for..."


    What else would you have wanted to know about Jung Chang’s life?

    I think we pretty much know everything.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ArtC 08-06-12
    ArtC 08-06-12 Member Since 2010

    Mysteries, classics, non-fiction, time travel, Bounty hunters, grim reapers... anything but vampires, please!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    18
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    "Walked away. Never looked back."
    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disinterest.


    Any additional comments?

    I've listened to half a dozen books that detail the asian female's plight through oppression, war and emmegration. This is no Memoir of a Geisha or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The story leaps about, articulating what happened to certain women, but putting you inside none of them.I simpler didn't get enough empathy to tell them part. After a few hours, I was not connected enough to catch the jumps, or know or care where what perspective I was currently veiwing. Hopelessly lost, I put it away, thinking that perhaps I'd go back, and simply never did. Over 800 books, and this is only one of two that I've never finished

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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