Review of 'Wild Swans'

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

This is a truly astounding book telling the story of three generations of woman who survive the tremendous upheavals in China over the past century. The level of detail is extreme and brings their lives into sharp focus. The story begins with the author's grandmother as she becomes the concubine to a warlord general then we follow her life as the relatively stable life she leads is thrown into disarray when first the Japanese then the Communists invade the country. What follows is more than 50 years of upheaval and repression having it's dire consequences on the people's spirit and way of life. The history this book tells is one that is seldom heard in the west – the story of drastic political upheaval in China from the viewpoint of the people – even though the author freely admits she was lucky to have been from an important family. A rather heavy read but a history told with great compassion – inquiring into the morality of the political systems of China (though with a consolation that “things are improving” made very late in the novel).

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Genre: Non-Fiction

Other reviewed books by Jung Chang, and Jon Halliday: