Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
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The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history—a bestselling classic in thirty languages with more than ten million copies sold around the world, now with a new introduction from the author.
An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving—and ultimately uplifting—detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.
involving his assets. The relatives feared my grandmother might lay her hands on Dr Xia’s wealth, as she would automatically become the manageress of the household as his wife. Dr Xia was a rich man. He owned 2,000 acres of farmland dotted around the county of Yixian, and even had some land south of the Great Wall. His large house in the town was built of grey bricks stylishly outlined in white paint. Its ceilings were whitewashed and the rooms were wallpapered, so that the beams and joints were
left before the prisoner was actually dead. On such occasions, Dong hinted, he could stop the garrotte before the prisoner died. After prisoners were garrotted, their bodies were put into thin wooden boxes and taken on a cart to a stretch of barren land on the outskirts of town called South Hill, where they were tipped into a shallow pit. The place was infested with wild dogs, who lived on the corpses. Baby girls who had been killed by their families, which was common in those days, were also
conscripted, and he was able to stay and help Dr Xia in the medicine shop. One of the teachers at my mother’s school was a young man named Kang, who taught Chinese literature. He was very bright and knowledgeable, and my mother respected him tremendously. He told her and some other girls that he had been involved in anti-Kuomintang activities in the city of Kunming in southwest China, and that his girlfriend had been killed by a hand grenade during a demonstration. His lectures were clearly
outskirts and to the railway, the vital communications artery. It was one thing to obtain the information, but it was another to get it out of the city. By the end of July the checkpoints were firmly shut, and anyone trying to enter or leave was thoroughly searched. Yu-wu consulted my mother, whose ability and courage he had grown to trust. The vehicles of senior officers could go in and out without being searched, and my mother thought of a contact she might be able to use. One of her fellow
university degree in engineering. Unlike many young men from wealthy, powerful families, he was not a dandy. My mother liked him, and the feeling was mutual. He began to pay social calls on the Xias and to invite my mother to tea parties. My grandmother liked him a lot; he was extremely courteous, and she considered him highly eligible. Soon Hui-ge started to invite my mother out on her own. At first his sister accompanied him, pretending to be a chaperone, but soon she would disappear with some