Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wild Swans

I recently read Wild Swans after it was recommended to me by my husband.

Published by HarperCollins in the early nineties, all employees had been given a copy at the time, and I had somehow got it into my head - perhaps the thickness or the pastel green cover, that it was an ephemeral work of romantic fiction. Working for Collins for nearly two decades (and still freelancing for them today) means I have so many books that the odd one can escape my radar, hidden in a pile from time to time.

Thomas recommended it to me as a fascinating take on almost a century of political history in China, but I found it absolutely mind-blowing from a psychological point of view. The society it described to me, and the way of thinking for the whole of the last century was so alien to me, it might as well have been an episode of Star Trek. I couldn't put it down, though poor Thomas had to put up with gasps, expletives and a lot of head-shaking in bed every night as I trudged through. I'm sure it shows how any human can react under the thumb of an authoritarian regime but as a free human being, I spent a lot of time shouting at the book in frustration!

I suppose, given the children of Jung Chang's generation are running the planet currently, it would be useful for us all to gain some insight into China, through this insider's account.

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