am 28. Mai 2000
I had never heard of this book when I picked it off the "China" shelf in the bookstore--I just wanted to read about Mainland China so that I could know a little more about someone I tutor in English. I was mesmerized. One strength of the book (besides the author's passion and her beautiful writing) is that you understand each of the 3 generations in the context of the others. The grandmother's world, China in the '20's, suggests why the communists (or something like them) were necessary and how deeply Mao betrayed that necessity. I knew very little about the Cultural Revolution except what appeared in the papers--now I see how crucial it is for us all to know the details, from people who were there. Read Hannah Arendt's Totalitarianism in light of Mao--it's all there.
am 26. August 2003
Die Autorin von "Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China", auf deutsch "Wilde Schwäne", war die erste Chinesin die einen Doktortitel von einer britischen Universität erhielt. Das Resultat ihres mehr als gelungenen Versuchs, die Geschichte(n) ihrer Mutter und ihrer Großmutter und gleichzeitig die Ereignisse des Chinas der letzten 100 Jahre nachzuzeichnen, ist ein bewegendes Buch voller lebhafter Beschreibungen und ein wichtiges Zeitdokument, das jeder unbedingt lesen sollte.
Jung Chang ist die Tochter einer tapferen Familie, die zu Zeiten der Kommunisten und auch schon zuvor Dinge durchgemacht hat, die wir uns kaum vorstellen können. Wir erleben auf ihrer "Reise" durch die Familiengeschichten dreier Generationen von Frauen die tiefsten menschlichen Abgründe, die das grausame Regime unter Mao hervorgebracht hat und gleichzeitig, wenn auch weniger oft, großen Mut und Tapferkeit, sogar unbändige Hilfsbereitschaft und Loyalität zwischen den Menschen, was unter den beschriebenen Umständen noch unglaublicher wirkt. Dieses Buch sollte auf keinem Bücherregal fehlen!
am 27. September 1997
Wild Swans is an absolutely excellent choice if you're interested in learning the fascinating history of a country you know little about and want a page-turning read.
Wild Swans tells the story of nearly a century (the 20th) of Chinese life through the lives of three generations of women, told by the youngest of the three. From the grandmother with bound feet who was a concubine, to the disenfranchised Communist activist, to a brilliant young scholar, you learn an honest and unapologetic history of the country. Since it is told by an insider of the communist revolution, you learn much more than you would from a Chinese history book. You also get a powerful picture of what it was like to live through such a tumultuous time period in a country so rich with history.
It can be devastatingly sad and depressing at times because much of the 20th century in China has more than its share of starvation, torture, murder and deception. But, I was impressed with the voice the author uses. She is sometimes bit
am 23. April 2000
I began reading this book while living in Shanghai, China as an English teacher. I didn't find time to finish it until I returned to the United States. I regret not finishing it while there. 'Wild Swans' not only informed me of the uncountable tragedies Chinese endured during their tulmultuous 20th century, but helped me understand behaviours and traditions of the Chinese that I had difficulty understanding while living there. I believe I might have adapted more quickly to life in Shanghai had I read the book before I commenced my year and half teaching stint. "Wild Swans" should be required reading for anyone boarding an airplane headed for China -the number of arrogant and misinformed westerners giving all westerners a bad name would then be decreased.
am 14. Mai 1999
The book started off pretty well. The story of her grandmother with the bound feet, living as a concubine, trying to escape the culture, yet integrally woven into it; this was all very interesting. And the area when Mao took over with his foggy regime is enthralling. But then the book trails off and becomes frankly boring. Granted, she's had a more eventful life than I, but she sort of lost track of the focus about halfway through, as though she were excited about writing the book in the begining, but lost her concentration along the way and just sort of wrapped it up at the end. Overall, I would not recommend this book. 60 to 80 pages of interesting material, and lots of filler.
am 23. Mai 2000
I can't believe more people don't know about this incredible book. It's beautifully written and tremendously informative. I agree with the reviewer below who said that it's the best book on 20th century China. And what a movie it would make if done right. Still, I'm taking away from the book itself -- if you think it's tough reading Holocaust literature, try this -- the Japanese and the Chinese committed the most horrible tortures and crimes on each other you can imagine, yet the author dwells on the hope and the love of her family despite the horrors she recounts. One of the most moving books you'll ever read.
am 30. Mai 2003
Das Buch schließt- wie ich beim Lesen schnell erkannt habe- eine Wissenslücke, von der ich zuvor gar nichts geahnt habe!!! Man kann es nicht beschreiben, aber das all das, was die Autorin, ihre Mutter und Großmutter sowie das ganze chinesische Volk in den letzte 100 Jahren mitgemacht haben ist schlichtweg unglaublich zumal es in einem Land mit langer Kulturgeschichte passierte. Besonders bewegend ist es dabei, dass vieles zu einer Zeit, in der ich selbst hier "in Frieden und Wohlstand- mit allen bürgerlichen Freiheiten ausgestattet" aufgewachsen bin, passiert ist- und uns nur unter einem vergleichsweise harmlos klingenden Begriff wie "Kulturrevolution" bekannt ist. Es bleibt die abschließende Erkenntnis: Der Wahnsinn und die Blindheit der Menschheit kann schier grenzenlos sein! Wie glücklich kann man sein, nicht in so ein Elend hineingeboren worden zu sein...
am 2. Januar 2000
When I sat down with Wild Swans, I had no expectations but to be informed and entertained by what I hoped would be a good book. I read to gain a personal understanding of the world in which we live through accounts and examples given by others of things I would never be able to experience first-hand. Never have I read a book that drew me in so powerfully and personally as Ms. Chang's Wild Swans. Wild Swans is epic in it's historical backdrop moving untirelessly through the last century of China, roughly between the years 1911 and 1976, but this is no textbook. You will never feel as though you just entered a lecture hall and are sitting through a journalistic or pedantic analysis of these turbulent times. This is the story of the author Jung Chang, her mother, and her grandmother. It is through their lives that history unfolds and is exposed. From the end of Imperial China, through Japanese occupation, the Nationalist movement, the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communists, Communist takeover, Mao's Great Leap Forward starving tens of millions to death, the Cultural Revolution turning a national identity upon it's head and breaking it's collective spirit in the process, to Mao Zedong's death, you will be amazed at what you learn in this book about the capacity of the heart to perservere and triumph. I couldn't help but to feel ashamed at the provincial life we are handed in our land of freedom, and at once be thankful that we are so endowed. Jung Chang explores her family so deeply that her subjects, such as her stoic father, a true beliver in the Communist cause, and her grandmother, a veritable symbol through her bound feet of a time and place long gone, become indelibly etched upon the mind of the reader. By the end of Wild Swans, you will feel you know China and Ms. Chang and her family intimately. This book fulfills whatever you set out to obtain or attain when you devote time to reading. If you have never been afraid to crack a book, let this fall into your hands, enter your heart, and enrich your life and in the end, thank Jung Chang for opening your eyes. Thank you, Chang Jung.
am 17. Dezember 1999
I had never been interested in Chinese history until I began reading Wild Swans, by Jung Chang. Now I can't wait to learn more about Chinese history and culture! This book, published in 1992, could be considered both a historical novel and biography. It is the story the author's grandmother, mother and her own life in China during twentieth century. Not only does the reader get a glimpse of what life was like in China, but they also get a very detailed and in-depth account of China's tumultuous history in this century. Because Wild Swans has two different focuses, on China and her family's history, the Chang's tone is very straight forward. She has a very strong voice that is prevalent as she described her personal life. There is quite a lot of description throught the entire book, but that only adds more dimension to the book and gives the reader a better look at the lives of the author's maternal relatives. The description includes great detail about the different governments that took power in China during the twentieth century and how her family was involved in those various regimes. The details about the government become lengthy and boring at times, but it was always interesting to see how Chang's family fit into the power of the times. One of the additions to the book that makes it more interesting is the way Chang incorporated so many Chinese quotes into the book, comparing them to the current times she and her family were facing. One of them that greatly affected the lives of all three generations of women in the book was "where there is a will to condemn, there is evidence". Ancient Chinese proverbs like this are used in the book to show how the Communists rearranged Chinese history to show that their regime was the best China would ever have. I have never thought about incorporating quotes in my writing, but this book showed me how that can be done, espescially when used a metaphor, like the example given. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. However, for those that don't have interest in history, this book might now be the one for you. It also is a biography of three women, so those that aren't interested in learning about the lives of women might be turned off by this book also. However, Wild Swans provides a detailed account of a culture and lifestyle that isn't as well known as other western civilizations, so those that are looking to find soemthing a little different in a book would probably be drawn to this book's story of three brave women living in during very trying times. I give this book four well-deserved stars.
am 6. Dezember 1999
During dinner time one night, my sister and father developed a thoughtful conversation over the Communist revolution of China. My initial reaction was amazement. I had previously believed that my sister was like me: an American born Chinese completely unschooled in anything relating to our ethnicity. As I picked up scraps of their conversation, which coursed from the "Manchukuo" period under the Japanese rule to Mao's communist reign, I wondered how my sister had absorbed all of the information of this intensive period. To my relief, I discovered that I did not have to pick up a history text book in order to become familiar with Chinese history; I could instead visualize the past through a memoir of three generations of Chinese women in Jung Chang's Wild Swans. Wild Swans is insightful and descriptive in uncovering a tumultuous era that spans from 1924 to 1978. However, Wild Swans is more than a chronicle of China's events during this period; Chang's book is an account of how war and revolution personally affected Jung's grandmother, her mother, and herself. The moving stories of these courageous and characteristically different women bring life and meaning to China's twentieth century cultural revolution. Chang's chapter titles are clever; her writing style is direct, needing little embellishment in order to retell the fascinating lives of her family. Chang also discusses how the three women are molded by the societal trends of each generation. Educative and personal, Wild Swans is a tribute to family and friends, and a celebration of the lives of "Three daughters of China." I found Wild Swans to be captivating and emotional in its direct portrayal of the determination of these women to survive and adhere to their duties, whether they are to themselves, their loved ones, or to their country. Wild Swans may be at times difficult to read, due to vivid and sometimes graphic accounts of certain events, but it is equally heart warming in its account of victories. Wild Swans is definitely worth reading!