Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

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This account of the horrors faced by the author during China''s Cultural Revolution tells of her arrest, the failed attempts to make her confess to spying, her imprisonment, and the story of her survival

From Publishers Weekly

This gripping account of a woman caught up in the maelstrom of China''s Cultural Revolution begins quietly. In 1966, only the merest rumblings of political upheaval disturbed the gracious life of the author, widow of the manager of Shell Petroleum in China. As the rumblings fast became a cataclysm, Cheng found herself a target of the revolution: Red Guards looted her home, literally grinding underfoot her antique porcelain and jade treasures; and she was summarily imprisoned, falsely accused of espionage. Despite harsh privationeven tortureshe refused to confess and was kept in solitary confinement for over six years, suffering deteriorating health and mounting anxiety about the fate of her only child, Meiping. When the political climate softened, and she was released, Cheng learned that her fears were justified: Meiping had been beaten to death when she refused to denounce her mother. The candor and intimacy of this affecting memoir make it addictive reading. Its intelligence, passion and insight assure its place among the distinguished voices of our age proclaiming the ascendancy of the human spirit over tyranny. Cheng is now a U.S. resident. BOMC main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cheng''s widely acclaimed book recounts in compelling specifics her persecution and imprisonment at the hands of Mao Zedong''s "Cultural Revolution" (1966-1976). Inquisitors accused her of being a "spy" and "imperialist," but during the harrowing years of solitary confinement she never gave in, never confessed a lie. We read this, not so much for historical analysis, but, like the literature of the Gulag in Russia, for an example of a humane spirit telling terrible truths honestly, without bitterness or cynicism. Highly recommended. BOMC main selection. Charles W. Hayford, History Dept., Northwestern Univ., Evanston, Ill.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Kunal Sen
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Shanghai and Calcutta
Reviewed in the United States on July 26, 2016
It is very unlikely that would have discovered this book if not for a Chinese friend of mine who strongly recommended this book to me. While I learned to trust her literary taste, this was one time when I was a bit skeptical. The brief description of the book didn''t seemed... See more
It is very unlikely that would have discovered this book if not for a Chinese friend of mine who strongly recommended this book to me. While I learned to trust her literary taste, this was one time when I was a bit skeptical. The brief description of the book didn''t seemed to agree with many things that I had learned during my formative years. Still, based on my past experience with her recommendations, I wanted to give it a try.

As I started reading, I quickly got drawn in by the vivid narration. It felt like I am there in Shanghai in the late 1960s, watching the Chinese Cultural Revolution unfold in front of my own eyes. While I could not break away from reading the book, something nagged me to doubt the perspective of the autobiographer, who was a member of the privileged class, and therefore seen as a "class enemy" by the Red Guard and the Chinese authority. She was brutally persecuted and spent years in solitary detention.

Just when all this was happening in China, I was growing up in Calcutta. During those early days of the Cultural Revolution, a political movement gathered steam in my part of India. Locally termed the Naxalite movement, it was the action of the Maoist faction of the Communist Party of India. At the same time similar movements were growing up in many parts of Europe, Latin America, and the rest of the world, all inspired by Mao Zedong''s Cultural Revolution in China. This movement, mostly led by the college students in and around Calcutta, eventually took a huge toll and thousands died as a result of clashes with police, rival political groups, or in police custody.

In those days it was hard to find a single building in Calcutta where the walls were not covered by stenciled images of Mao, with the absurd sounding slogan "China''s chairman is our chairman". The little Red Book of Mao''s quotations were omnipresent. Romanticized stories of the Cultural Revolution floated in and energized a whole generation of bright young people. Many believed they were witnessing the start of an ideal society with brand new values.

This book told a very different story. It told the story of a time when a bunch of young people were convinced that almost anyone outside of the working class was not to be trusted. Intellectuals and teachers were forced to give up their professions and pick up hard labor, all foreign books, music, art was abandoned and destroyed. Almost anyone with any past western connection were seen as spies. Thousands were jailed or killed simply on the basis of suspicion. Gangs of Red Guards roamed the streets and took whatever action they felt was necessary to punish and destroy the "Counter Revolutionaries". As a result of all this, people stopped trusting anyone, even closest family members, because under pressure anyone could point fingers. Those were horribly brutal times in China.

Six years later we came to know of the ouster of the Gang of Four in China, the mastermind behind the horrible atrocities that happened in the name of the Cultural Revolution. Even though the authorities never directly blamed Mao or denounced the Cultural Revolution, all the old policies were reversed, and today''s China is very far from the days of the Cultural Revolution. In spite of all that, somewhere deep in my mind, the romantic notions probably persisted. That was perhaps why my initial reaction was slightly doubtful. But as I read more, and also based on many other books I have read recently about that time in China, I realized that even if you discount the political beliefs of the writer, one cannot deny the inhuman conditions that prevailed, and the sheer madness of the ideology.

What is most sobering is the fact that perfectly smart and well meaning people are capable of being blinded by a powerful ideology where we stop to question the facts. Anything that does not fit the ideological mold is ignored or explained away. That is the danger of an ideology, any ideology. Our intelligence is no guarantee that we would not fall victim of its anesthetizing effect. Ideologies are the thinking crutch of the intellectually lazy, where once you accept the framework, you don''t have to do much critical thinking anymore, as the ideology does it for you. It is a black box where you can throw in your problems and the moral answer pops out.

In 1977, just after the ouster of the Gang of Four, my parents visited China for the first time. At one point they visited Mao''s mausoleum, who died an year earlier. My mother, not a particularly political person, saw the body of the man and started to weep. When I asked her what made her cry, she said she was thinking of the the thousands of young people in Calcutta who gave their lives believing in this man. I wonder what would have been her reaction if she also knew that thousands of innocent people were tortured and killed in China under his rule, and perhaps with his knowledge. Such are the complexities of history.
105 people found this helpful
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J C Pendleton
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Brave Soul
Reviewed in the United States on June 13, 2018
She lived through HELL, but outsmarted all the commies -- a brave soul. All the young know-it-alls who think communism is acceptable should read about conditions under Mao and much of it in China today, where they track your every move. It''s amazing what whiners and... See more
She lived through HELL, but outsmarted all the commies -- a brave soul. All the young know-it-alls who think communism is acceptable should read about conditions under Mao and much of it in China today, where they track your every move. It''s amazing what whiners and complainers they''re turning out of our EXPENSIVE universities -- it''s scary.
32 people found this helpful
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wsmrer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Doctrinaire Madness
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2020
Many ways to read Nien Cheng’s autobiographical story of six and a half years as a prisoner in solitary confinement during Mao Tze-tung’s Cultural Revolution. Cheng tells it beautifully. What is fascinating is what is reveled, and this will call on the life experiences... See more
Many ways to read Nien Cheng’s autobiographical story of six and a half years as a prisoner in solitary confinement during Mao Tze-tung’s Cultural Revolution. Cheng tells it beautifully.
What is fascinating is what is reveled, and this will call on the life experiences of the reader, as always.

This reviewer was thrown back to Los Angeles in the 1950’s with a connection to the movie industry in the budding years of McCarthyism and the heroic cartoons of the humorist Herblock that explained it so well. This memory called up by an article by Arthur Miller: “Why I Wrote the Crucible.”
Miller was reaching back further in our history to the madness of the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600’s as his rendering of what McCarthyism had rote.
Arthur Miller comments in his piece: “Nien Cheng, the author of “Life and Death in Shanghai,” has told me that she could hardly believe that a non-Chinese—someone who had not experienced the Cultural Revolution—had written the play Crucible” - an interesting linkage.

In all three cases Society collapses there is no defense against the relentless prosecutors following their belief systems mindlessly, nor any support from what had been friends, family, and business associates seeking their own ‘salvation;’ suicide often occurring .
Nien Cheng lived this experience to the point of winning redemption from a Maoist system that allowed no class enemies escape without confession, never confessing, and always demanding justice.
Is that a rewarding tale worth well over 400 pages? It’s wonderful because she finds a way to survive to the time when the players changed.
The more you know of those ten years the more you will delight in her absorption of the forces at work and the detailing and emotions released intensified by the murder of her daughter.
This is a powerful story and one more take on Shanghai in process.
5 stars
14 people found this helpful
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Collie Lover
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I wanted to lend it to friends/relatives as I was so impressed with Cheng Nien''s story and her amazing spirit. The way she carefully chose her words ...
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2017
Bought this book to share after a friend lent me a copy to read. I wanted to lend it to friends/relatives as I was so impressed with Cheng Nien''s story and her amazing spirit. The way she carefully chose her words and her great reasoning ability gave us a glimpse into a... See more
Bought this book to share after a friend lent me a copy to read. I wanted to lend it to friends/relatives as I was so impressed with Cheng Nien''s story and her amazing spirit. The way she carefully chose her words and her great reasoning ability gave us a glimpse into a country where words matter more than most of us in the West can imagine. My favorite part of the book was on page 538, where the author compares her new life in America to life in her beloved China. To watch the nightly news, you would think we in the U.S. live in a terrible place, but Cheng Nien reminds us how valuable freedom is, and the many things our country does right. Reading books from those with such strength of character and courage in an inhumane world is uplifting, and quite educational.
29 people found this helpful
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marysu
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beware...this could happen to USA if we are not alert!!
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2016
This book is one that should be required for every student to read to give them an idea of what this Country did to destroy their citizen''s lives and freedoms. We must be aware when government gets too much power. There was no way it''s citizens could... See more
This book is one that should be required for every student to read to give them an idea
of what this Country did to destroy their citizen''s lives and freedoms. We must be aware
when government gets too much power. There was no way it''s citizens could protect
their family or freedoms. They had no second amendment to protect their rights to
bear arms. It was an awful time in China and if you had any ambition to work hard and
get ahead it was considered against the government in power.

Read it...you will want to be aware of what could happen when we take our liberties for granted...
43 people found this helpful
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SherC
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Insightful and touching. Great read.
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2017
I must commend Ms. Cheng for her ability to write about her experiences during the Cultural Revolution with such candor and courage given the many devastating events. I was quite amazed at her ability to hold strong throughout her incarceration and rejoiced at her final... See more
I must commend Ms. Cheng for her ability to write about her experiences during the Cultural Revolution with such candor and courage given the many devastating events. I was quite amazed at her ability to hold strong throughout her incarceration and rejoiced at her final vindication, even while saddened at the loss of her daughter. As a Westerner, I was informed of the political situation in China via the various media at the time but could no way have understood the intricacies from those sources as was detailed in this book. Perhaps it will sound strange but I feel, in some way, honored and privileged to have read this book.
6 people found this helpful
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Tamine
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Highly recommend
Reviewed in the United States on May 18, 2020
A Shanghai-nese life''s story that shows a brilliant mind, a classy lady, an unconquerable spirit, and a wrenching tale of her life in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. The author''s analysis and explanations of China, the time period, as well as history in China is... See more
A Shanghai-nese life''s story that shows a brilliant mind, a classy lady, an unconquerable spirit, and a wrenching tale of her life in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. The author''s analysis and explanations of China, the time period, as well as history in China is easily understood as well as deeply thought-provoking. Anyone wanting to understand more about China should not miss reading this book.
3 people found this helpful
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pf
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read it. *****
Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2018
Do you want a friend to read a book that gives them a small idea of what went on when “The Gang of Four” were in control in China? Do you want to get lost in a woman’s journey inside communism? Inside a jail cell where her best friend was a spider? Although... See more
Do you want a friend to read a book that gives them a small idea of what went on when “The Gang of Four” were in control in China? Do you want to get lost in a woman’s journey inside communism? Inside a jail cell where her best friend was a spider?
Although autobiographical, this book reads like a novel and you easily follow along and fear for this woman’s life and integrity right beside her.
It reads like a novel because in this country, regardless of the current climate, you can’t believe that this could actually happen anywhere.
5 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Smurf44
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Powerful read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2020
Not a great piece of literature, but written from the heart and it has to be read in that spirit. It has a surprising resonance to modern Britain. Power games don''t change, even as everything else moves on.
2 people found this helpful
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Henry L. Walter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well written and easy to read account
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 4, 2020
Very moving book. Easy to read but a very detailed account of the horrors of the Chinese cultural revolution. I cant recommend highly enough.
2 people found this helpful
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ClaudLND
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved this book!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2020
Super interesting. Gave me an insight on what the cultural revolution in China meant for those who were not of the same ideas.
2 people found this helpful
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trysca
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Harrowing testimony
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 5, 2017
A blunt first hand account of a uncompromising clash of political fronts. The narrator is surely a brave and stoic individual who has lived through a tough experience, but the retelling is hard going and dry, somewhat like the experience of Shanghai itself. There are many...See more
A blunt first hand account of a uncompromising clash of political fronts. The narrator is surely a brave and stoic individual who has lived through a tough experience, but the retelling is hard going and dry, somewhat like the experience of Shanghai itself. There are many spelling errors in the kindle version - presumably due to OCR scanning of the original print copy.
2 people found this helpful
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Bustthematrix
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you enjoy learning the history of social development, you''ll love this.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2021
Amazing and incredibly insightful book. Very well written, revealing the mind and experience of the author in a very educational and yet entertaining way. Highly recommended read.
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Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online

Life high quality and Death lowest in Shanghai online