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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

4.1 (260 )
5 star
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Overall
4.3 (218 )
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Story
4.2 (221 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (8)
Performance
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  •  
    Mike Dallas, OR 02-13-12
    Mike Dallas, OR 02-13-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A real shocker!"

    Jung Chang reveals what it was like growing up in Mao's China. And she managed to escape with her life. Her sequel, "Mao: the untold story" is even more shocking!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Elizabeth Korte Grand Junction, CO United States 12-22-11
    Ann Elizabeth Korte Grand Junction, CO United States 12-22-11 Member Since 2010

    I'm an avid reader who doesn't have much time to actually read, now that I am also a mom. Love that so many great books are on audio now!

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    "Wonderful book and great audio-book!"

    This true account of the lives of the author, her mother, and her grandmother reads like a novel. The story takes the listener through many significant events in modern chinese history through the eyes of these amazing women. You won't be able to stop listening!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth S. Dulaney 03-12-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Fascinating book!"

    This book was interesting and educational. This is the best portrayal of events inside China before, during and after the cultural revolution that I have ever read. It gave me a great understanding for the culture of present day China.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Durham, NC, United States 01-29-12
    Anne Durham, NC, United States 01-29-12 Member Since 2009
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    "important story"
    What made the experience of listening to Wild Swans the most enjoyable?

    Wild Swans recounts the lives of the author, her mother and grandmother as they live through the transitions of China from an isolated imperial kingdom to the new millenium. It's an important story, dramatically presented in domestic detail which makes daily life an illustration of political realities.


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

    I can't think of a comparison. The combination of historical fact and personal experience presented in a straightforward, no - nonsense way is unusual.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance reflects the authorial voice. That said, sometimes the authorial voice was a bit naive and callow, which I found annoying.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not likely. It's about 23 hours long and laden with detail. It was interesting, but one needed breaks.


    Any additional comments?

    I gave a stunningly detailed picture of life in China, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, but for a casual listener, the details were sometimes numbing. This is best suited to a listener with real curiosity about the subject. I'm glad I listened to it, but it is not for anyone wanting a fast paced experience that would sweep one away.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gilbert San Antonio, TX, United States 01-08-12
    Gilbert San Antonio, TX, United States 01-08-12 Member Since 2006

    Sentient Being, Planet Earth

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    "Incredibly eye opening, truly wonderful."
    What did you love best about Wild Swans?

    This was a phenomenal read with every sentence leading you to the next with great anticipation. While the book continues to be banned in China, it's such a privilege to walk along with the author and learn with gasped breaths of new awareness at what was happening. I was stunned at the cultural hypnosis brought on by the time, by the


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 12-15-12
    David Houston, TX, United States 12-15-12 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Accurate, moving and chilling"

    I live in Beijing with my Chinese wife who was a high school student during the Cultural Revolution. I have many Chinese in-laws with first hand experience of the world which June Chang reveals to us. As I listened, I shared the book with them and they ratified its accuracy and approved the pitch perfect truth of the portrayal of the years before the "opening up" which came after the death of Mao. As a result, I experienced the book as an especially dynamic encounter with the personal histories of those around me, and this may be why I can give it five stars.

    That said, it is true that the book is exceptionally detailed in its approach, and for some readers this may be excessive. There is, however, so much to recommend this in depth examination of the spiritual, emotional and ethical rape of an entire culture at the behest of one man that I am convinced that most listeners will find the book well worth the hard work. In addition, the narrative is so personal and so steeped in evocative description that it speaks to the heart as powerfully as to the intellect. And if you are willing to be challenged by the question, "What would you have done under these circumstances," you will find Wild Swans a particularly rewarding listen.

    Afterwards you might want to find Chang's exhaustively researched "Mao--The Untold Story." A remarkable work.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexis SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 03-10-12
    Alexis SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 03-10-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Loved this when I read the book"

    I loved this when I read it back in the 90s. It is super informative - the Maoism period was really interesting and my friends from China felt that it was a good depiction of the times. In audio form it was a bit too dense for my easy-listening, multi-tasking habits.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen United States 01-07-12
    Karen United States 01-07-12 Member Since 2011

    I've just gotten hooked on audio book this last year & I love them. Now I can "read" a book & do other things like walk or hobbies.

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    "Eye opening"
    Where does Wild Swans rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    long...and very educational


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wild Swans?

    cultural revolution


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

    no


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    the tea room got to me with the od man


    Any additional comments?

    hard book to listen to for me. started out really interesting but i got a little bored with it. there was a little bit too much detail about some things. but overall i feel very educated now about communist china. it was a great book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus HENDERSON, NV, United States 02-15-12
    Marcus HENDERSON, NV, United States 02-15-12 Member Since 2011
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    "An Indictment of Communist China under Mao"
    Where does Wild Swans rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I've listened to two books so far with Audible, Unbroken and Wild Swans, and Wild Swans ranks second. But Unbroken is hard, very hard, for any audio book to beat.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Wild Swans?

    The real life depictions of the suffering and state of mind of the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Chang's father rejecting the Ting's and writing the letter to Mao.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Chang's mother running to Chang, trying to bring her some dumplings, before Chang left for her father's camp.


    Any additional comments?

    This book provides a description of communist China under Mao that is not only essential to understand China's history, but its present as well. And because China is such a major player in our world today, it should be a must-read for any educated person. At times the book drags on, and can, on occasion, be boring. But I'm not convinced that that is Chang's fault and not mine.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Johnston Gilbert, Arizona 01-07-13
    Barbara Johnston Gilbert, Arizona 01-07-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Reveals the Evolution of Communism in China."
    What did you love best about Wild Swans?

    The author uses the story of 3 generations or her family to reveal the story of China.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was a tapestry that included both the personal and political histories of a place that has been shrouded in mystery.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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