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)
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!
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!
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.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
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.
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.
I can't think of a comparison. The combination of historical fact and personal experience presented in a straightforward, no - nonsense way is unusual.
The performance reflects the authorial voice. That said, sometimes the authorial voice was a bit naive and callow, which I found annoying.
Not likely. It's about 23 hours long and laden with detail. It was interesting, but one needed breaks.
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.
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.
Sentient Being, Planet Earth
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
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!
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.
long...and very educational
the tea room got to me with the od man
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.
I would listen again because there is so much information regarding the three generations covered in the book. I just purchased the book
She has a pleasant voice and I found her easy to listen to. I don't think I can chose one over the other. I find listening when I have the time a good way to
I think the death of the grandmother was tragic because in my mind it brought to the fore the terrible atrocities that were perpetuated when the communists were seeking power and doing all manner of evil to their own people under Mao.
I lived in China on and off for four years and taught English in an upper middle school and two universities. I knew something about Mao and actually tried to find some information on Lei feng but it is sparse. Mostly I heard he was a kind soldier who helped people. The book gave me a more complete history and I found it intriguing and informative. Having lived in China I know Mao is highly revered and with the revisionist history and the propaganda machine, the Chinese people seem unquestioning about their past. The author of this book did the one thing that frustrated me when I was talking to Chinese who did not do this and that is questioning.
I made friends in China and I spoke to her about Mao and the horrible things he did and her response was:
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.
The real life depictions of the suffering and state of mind of the Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.
Chang's father rejecting the Ting's and writing the letter to Mao.
Chang's mother running to Chang, trying to bring her some dumplings, before Chang left for her father's camp.
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.
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