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Title Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher HarperCollins
Author Jung Chang
Genre Biography, History
Target Audience Adults
First Published 1991
Purchase Link Amazon

Wild Swans Introduction

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is a family biography written by Chinese author Jung Chang. First published in 1991, the book spans over a century of Chinese history, from the end of the Qing Dynasty to the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. It tells the story of three generations of women in Chang's family: her grandmother, her mother, and herself.

Plot and Characters

  • Yu-fang (Grandmother): Born into a feudal society, Yu-fang is forced to become a concubine to a warlord general, experiencing the last days of imperial China.
  • Bao Qin (Mother): Growing up during the turmoil of the Kuomintang era and the Japanese invasion, Bao Qin becomes a committed Communist and marries a high-ranking Party official.
  • Jung Chang (Author): The daughter, who grows up during the Cultural Revolution, witnesses the impact of Mao Zedong's policies on her family and country, leading to her eventual departure from China.

Themes and Style

Wild Swans explores themes of resilience, sacrifice, and the search for identity against the backdrop of political upheaval. The book provides a personal perspective on the major events of 20th-century China, including the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the rise of the Communist Party, and the Cultural Revolution.

Chang's writing is notable for its vivid storytelling, emotional depth, and historical detail. She combines personal narrative with historical analysis to create a compelling and intimate portrait of her family and country.

Reception and Impact

Wild Swans has been widely acclaimed for its powerful storytelling and unique insight into Chinese history. It has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages. The book has received numerous awards and is often considered a modern classic.

The book's frank depiction of life under Mao's regime and its critical view of the Communist Party led to its ban in China. Despite this, Wild Swans has had a significant impact on how the world views modern Chinese history and has inspired a greater interest in the personal stories behind historical events.