Scot, July 13, 2010 (view all comments by Scot)
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is a fascinating family chronicle that combines history with biography and autobiography to create a highly entertaining and surprisingly educational read. I was completely riveted by the author's story of her grandmother, her mother and herself as they struggle to adapt and survive in China as it is transformed by the wave of history that took it from feudalism to communism at the turn of the last century. Wild Swans is romantic, violent, full of political intrigue, and ripe with historical detail. It's no surprise that this book has been translated into 30 languages for 10 million readers since it's was originally published in 1991. It's that good.
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by Publisher's Weekly,
"Bursting with drama, heartbreak and horror, this extraordinary family portrait mirrors China's century of turbulence....[Chang's] meticulous, transparent prose radiates an inner strength."
by Jacqueline Smith, Library Journal,
"The story reads like the sweeping family sagas of genre fiction but rises far above the norm. The characters are well drawn, the events are riveting, and the story teaches lessons of history as well as lessons of the heart. It also allows listeners to visit a world unfamiliar to most Westerners. The author brings memories of a foreign life and illuminates them with graceful prose."
by The New York Review of Books,
"[This] is one of the most intimate studies of persecution, suffering, and fear in Mao's time, before and after his triumph in 1949, and one of the finest....It is the most harrowing and extended account I have read of the years between 1966 and 1976, and the most analytical."
by Susan Brownmiller, The New York Times Book Review,
"By keeping her focus on three generations of female kin and their practical adaptations to the shifting winds of political power, Ms. Chang gives us a rare opportunity to follow the evolution of some remarkable women who not only reflected their times, but who also acted upon them in order to change their individual destiny."
by The Times Literary Supplement,
"Despite its interesting details, Wild Swans does not tell us much that other memoirs, similarly written from a position of privilege, have not already revealed. One looks forward to an account of China's recent past which will not merely focus on the experience of the privileged urban elite."
"[The author] tells stories and anecdotes, in straight chronological order, with little contrivance, providing real-life fables as open-ended answers to the puzzles of 20th-century China....Taken in pieces, Chang's narrative can be prosaic. But in its entirety, the author achieves a Dickensian tone with detailed portraits and intimate remembrances, with colorful minor characters and intricate yet fascinating side plots."
by The New York Times,
"An evocative, often astonishing view of life in a changing China."
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