The facts are these: In 1934, in the midst of a brutal civil war, the Communist party and its 200,000 soldiers were forced from their bases by Chiang Kaishek and his Nationalist troops. After that, truth and legend begin to blur. Led by Mao Zedong, the Communists set off on a strategic retreat to the distant, barren north of China, thousands of miles away. Only one in five Marchers reached their destination, where, the legend goes, they gathered strength and returned to launch the new China in the heat of revolution.
What emerges from Sun's research, her interviews, and her own memories of growing up in China is a moving portrait of China past and present. Sun finds that the forces at work during the days of the revolution, including the barren, unforgiving landscape; the unifying power of outside threats from foreign countries; Mao's brilliant political instincts and his use of terror, propaganda, and ruthless purges to consolidate power and control the population, are the very forces that made China what it is today.
The Long March is a gripping retelling of an amazing historical adventure, an eye-opening account of how Mao manipulated the event for his own purposes, and a beautiful document of a country balanced between legend and the truth.
©2007 Sun Shuyun; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Her interviews with veterans are among the book's highlights, but just as fascinating as the interviews and archival research is her travel through China. She colorfully describes the countryside, which in her eyes maintains its ancient beauty even amid creeping 21st-century modernity." (Publishers Weekly)
Although I appriciate this book, the merits of the book itself are arguable. The tone is much more anecdotal than academic, and although this may leave many questions unanswered and assumptions unquestioned, there is certainly value in it. The mythology and the politics of the Long March cannot be dispelled by one book, but it does seem to be a useful attempt with many very interesting insights, particularly as the Long March generation are simply no longer with us.
What is absolutely inexcusable and makes this an audiobook that I cannot recommend is the fact that the reader, while having a pleasant voice and good manner, does not speak Chinese. She seems merely to have been briefly coached in tones and pronunciation which only serves to bring her attempts into the surreal.
Her pronunciation of the place names and people involved are at best confusing even to one who knows the material fairly well. At worst, because she doesn't read with accuracy, her pronunciation shifts and identical places and people seem to be two or more
This is extremely unfortunate. I only wish there were more accessible books on Chinese history.
This is a thoroughly researched book, and very well-read. But unless one is very familiar not just with the Chinese Revolution of Mao, but also the details of the Long March, much of it will be lost. Because I drive to work each day, I did end up listening to the whole thing, and I did indeed learn much compared to what I knew (which was very little). But I believe the real interest in the book, and the reason the author wrote it was to reveal the realities of the Long March as a complex, difficult and sometimes horribly unfair political process, in comparison to the glorious, positive and uplifting engine of societal change that the official history would have one believe. It validates the old Chinese proverb warning one to not live in "interesting times", but this reader/listener was not nearly well-versed enough to gain all that the excellent author put into the creation of this history.
I am Chinese with a strong interest in the subject. However, this was one of the worst books I ever purchased on Audible. The narrator just drones on and would serve as a great cure for all you insomniacs out there.
I understand that this is historical fiction but it appears it is way more fiction than history. There is no way to tell how much is fact and how much is the author's imagination...I am guessing that is mostly imagination.
Wouldn't even recommend this if it was free.
My knowledge of this period is mostly of the depression and crime in the western world. I had no idea what the Long March was really about. The way it is done made it even more interesting and I felt my knowledge of how Chinese communism started has increase considerably. I wish Sun's other two books were on Audible too.
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