Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Wild Swans

I just finished reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang (or rather, ?? Zh?ng Róng).

I’m sure most people read it when it came out in the 1990s, but it somehow slipped under my radar and I only discovered it now.

It’s basically a history of mainland China from 1909 to 1978, as seen through the eyes of three women: Jung Chang, her mother and her grandmother. (The title of the book is due to the Chinese word ? hóng “swan goose“, which forms part of two of their names.)

It’s a really good read, and although it’s of course not a proper, objective account of Chinese history, it nevertheless gives a very good feel for what happened there, especially during the Cultural Revolution.

The only caveat I’d add is that Chang’s father was a very highly placed Communist official before the Cultural Revolution, so I think her account of the years leading up to it is likely to be too positive compared to how ordinary Chinese people experienced those years.

It’s definitely worth reading, perhaps even more now than when it was published, given how dominant the PRC has become in the World since then.

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