©2008 Chaozhu Ji; (P)2008 Tantor
"A true 'fly-on-the-wall' account of the momentous changes in Chinese society and international relations over the last century." (Kirkus)
interested in history, science, and pulp fiction
I found this book to be enchanting. I couldn't put it down. My tween son is listening right now, even. Ji Chaozhu is certainly a witness to history, but he is also clearly a thoughtful, self-deprecating, charming person and an eloquent writer. Ji's vivid storytelling takes us to Manhattan and Harvard in the 1930's and 40's, sharing details of his playful and humorous boyhood that show his deep connections with the U.S. Ji goes through many highs and lows as the political winds change throughout the decades, for sure, but he maintains an optimism and a faith in the overall project of Communism that is weirdly refreshing.
In Norman Dietz's performance, I grew to love my one-sided conversations with "Little Ji." We disagreed on many things (Ji complains of being treated as a spy in America when, in fact, his father and brother were spies in America, for example), and we part company regarding the incidents of Tiananmen Square (Ji could not seem to fathom why people would complain "now," when finally things were better than they ever were). But I think you will enjoy the repartee. And it will shed light on the stature Premier Zhou En-Lai has in China, as the years go by.
As a young radical in the late sixties/early seventies, I grew up thinking of Mao as a hero of the people. I knew he was vilified in the West, but was aware of how the US demonizes Communism. This inside view of a Chinese patriot (the author) who loves both China and the US gave me a more balanced view, and rings true. Through his eyes I felt a better understanding for a nation clawing its way out of feudalism. This is not a book about Mao; it's a book about China told from a wise insider's perspective. Extremely well done, and read in a clear, well-paced style well suited to the content.
A good book. I have listened to it more than once. The personal notes on public events in China provided at different look at China during the Mao years and since. I enjoyed reading remembering the events and then seeing them from a different angle. Nicely done. You can't help but wish Ji Chaozhu all the best.
A more realistic look into the more turbulant times in Chinese history,
This is a great story of a tumultuous time of Chinese history told by a man who lived through it. You really develop a clear image of how hard it must have been to survive the Japanese invasion, growing up as an emigrant in the U.S., then return to your home to struggle through Mao's vision of how to grow China.
If you are trying to understand China, the people and how to do business there, you should add this to your reading list.
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