After reading this book , I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about chinese history. Absolutely nothing. But this book is not about Chinese History. It is about 3 women, a grandmother,a mother and a daughter, the author. But as the story is set in Mao’s China, the communist China, it describes life under Mao, the communist leader. The things Mao did were unbelievable, i can’t even begin to tell you how shocked i was while reading it.
I’ll give you some points in random, epecially for many of us who know very little about Mao. –Mao stopped family planning because he believed that if America dropped bombs on China, China should be able to multiply itself through the poeple. What kind of a logic is this? I mean who thinks this way. Well, seems like Mao did. –The entire country was asked to produce steel and other important activities like agriculture were put on back burner. This one irresponsible decision led to a country wide famine in which 30 million people died. –During one phase chinese teenage students formed local units called Red Gaurds which tortured people under the pretext of following Mao’s orders. Mao did not care what happened to anyone unless and until there was a threat to his position. –During the cultural revolution, paintings, musical instruments, sports, cards, tea houses, bars and any other from of entertainment was either banned or destroyed. Mao also believed that anything old and antique should not be a part of China. This led to the demolishing of many historic monuments in the country. –He made a remark once saying, “The more books you read, the more stupid you become”. This remark later became the guideline for health and educating. I am amazed by how much power one person had on a country as huge as China, how one person’s orders could change the lives of millions of people, and how he could toss and turn their destinies with one irresponsible, selfish decision.
I am also amazed at how thoroughly the minds of the chinese people were affected, rather conditioned that they saw nothing wrong in what Mao did or rather never blamed him for any of his wrong decisions. He was GOD to them. He detroyed and exploited the country for his selfish reasons. One cannot imagine one person going through all the things that the women in the book go through, horrifying but believable. I’ll leave you with the authors words,”The atmosphere outside was terrifying, with the violent street-corner denunciation meetings and all the sinister wall posters and slogans; people were walking around like zombies, with harsh or cowed expressions on their faces”. Read it to believe it.
Mike: I could not reply in a comment as it allows only a certain number of words.
By the way thanks for pointing that out.
I wrote this down immediately after I finished reading it. And I was stunned by Mao and the history of china. Maybe that’s why the Summary has more of it.
Having read the book a long time ago, I don’t really remember the details.
But yes, it's basically a book about 3 women, a grandmother, a mother and the daughter, the author of course. The book covers their journey with the history of China as the background.
Chang was the child of Party leaders, communists, so she was privileged compared to many other kids. Also just because of that, she witnessed horrible torture inflicted on her parents as well as so many others due to the changing political scenes in the country.
Chang also joined the Red Guards for a while when she was a student, because of which we get to see the turmoil that she faced while following Mao's orders and following her conscience.
Chang left china for studying in London after her father’s death.