23 November 2008

Book Reviews: "Wild Swans" and "Factory Girls"

Wild Swans, Chang's international bestseller.Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang was a good book comparing and contrasting the lives of her grandmother, a woman of Imperial China, her mother, a daughter of the Communist Revolution, and herself, an expatriate and anti-Maoist. The story is very good, although I think her editor failed her in jumping around in time too much. Chang has been accused of severe anti-Maoist distortions, but I have no way to prove or disprove this. I just know that this book is a very interesting look at China from the early 1900's to today and I would recommend it to any fan of China or history.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang is a fascinating look at the culture of the factory girls who come from rural China and work the factories of industrial urban China. Over the years things have changed and this has changed the power structure and traditions of China for these girls and their families. This book is a very good introspective of these girls. However, seemingly out of nowhere Chang starts putting her family history in the book. Rather than adding to the book, it distracts from it. Her family history is still very interesting, and not unlike that of "Wild Swans", but I feel that part should have been left for its own book and "Factory girls" should have been left to focused on just the factory girls, which Chang never was.

While both books have serious flaws, I would still recommend them to anyone interested in the sociology of modern and recent China.

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