I have to admit to struggling with this book I am a fast reader but five days in and I am still only half way through it It is not the biography I was expecting and hoping for but a detailed history of Chinese politics The actual story is just 84% of the unproofed download but I am abandoning it for now and may come back to finish it at a later date Three stars as the writing is readable and the research is amazing But it s not the biography I was expecting, it s about the men in their lives than the sisters With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review an unproofed e ARC of this book Let s not pretend this is a light read, it does cover almost to 150 years of modern Chinese political history, but it s impressively accessible and not particularly dry or dense either Partly, this is due to the perspective Chang approached it from focusing on the three Soong sisters, part of one of the Four big families of the Republic of China The sisters are summarized by a Maoist saying, One loved money, one loved power, one loved her country This book clearly shows that s a fairly superficial take on these rich characters in Chinese history, although it s also to see how that became a convenient shorthand for the communist government.
For me, this book was fascinating Much of the information I come across relating to China is very academic Chang s work brings a level of humanity to these periods, opening up views I ve not come across before This book starts with Sun Ya Published by Random House UK, Vintage PublishingJonathan CapePub Date 17 October 2019 Reviewed 20 October 2019 The official description They were the most famous sisters in China As the country battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the centre of power, and each of them left an indelible mark on history Red Sister, Ching ling, married the Father of China , Sun Yat sen, and rose to be Mao s vice chair Little Sister, May ling, became Madame Chiang Kai shek, first lady of pre Communist Nationalist China and a major political figure in her own right Big Sister, Ei ling, became Chiang s unofficial main adviser and made herself one of China s richest women Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, intrigue, bravery, glamour and betrayal, wh Jung Chang is probably best known for her hugely successful family autobiography Wild Swans, however she has also written two historic books Mao The Unknown Story and Empress Dowager Cixi Now she tells the extraordinary story of three sisters who due to marriage and family association found themselves at the centre of the tumultuous events that engulfed 20th century China We have Red Sister, Ching ling who married the still revered Father of China , Sun Yat sen and due to our allegiance to the Communist cause went on to become Mao s vice chair and remain diametrically opposed to her nationalist supporting sisters There is Little Sister, May ling, who would marry the nationalist leader of pre Communist China Chiang Kai shek and as first Chang s research, as always, is astonishing In this intimate portrait of the Soong sisters, you get a real sense of who they were I ve seen one or two reviews be critical about the fact that the book focuses a fair bit on the men in sisters lives I can understand that I think Chiang Kai Shenk was given prominence than Big Sister Ei Ling But, all three sisters were in the positions they were because of who they were married to or in Ei Ling s case, who her sister May Ling was married to The reality was a woman would never have power without some connection to a powerful man at that time in China s history though all three certainly played fundamental roles in helping the men in their lives gain and keep power.
Goodness where to start a review of this epic book I don t read a lot of non fiction, but this caught my attention having read and enjoyed wild swans and this book also features 3 strong women Coupled with their lives being irrevocably entwined in the history of modern China with its warring factions and their own sibling rivalries an explosive narrative is assured.
As Ms Chang outlines in her introduction, a lot of material is available about their stories and she has obviously done a huge amount of research evidenced by 16% of my e book being notes on her sources and further references Although I feel almost ungrateful saying this, I felt that as an ordinary reader there was so much information and quotes that, for me, it stopped my fu Ð Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister ↠´ An interesting account of the three Soong sisters, born in Shanghai at the end of the 19th century, and influential throughout the whole of 20th century Chinese politics.
A combination of biography and political history, the book explores the lives of the three sisters, how their politics, beliefs, faiths and passions diverge and reunite.
I did find this fairly heavy going Iet s face it, political history isn t the lightest topic but worth sticking at The sisters are fascinating characters although I really didn t like them spoilt, with a feeling of entitlement, and able to pull strings for their loved ones while the general populace suffered.
A long, hard, but interesting insight into some generally unknown but major characters in the recent history of China.
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is the fascinating collective biography of the Soong sisters of Shanghai three strong willed, passionate, and independent women who influenced the development of modern China and Taiwan, often from opposing political camps Jung Chang s research is impressive, delving into archives in the US, the UK, Taiwan, Russia and Hong Kong, as well as diaries, interviews with the Soong s family and friends, and eye witness accounts of various events The result is a vivid and detailed historical book that is easily accessible, entertaining and truly interesting Thank you to Better Reading and Jonathan Cape for this ARC
The author crafts the extraordinary story through writings of many people who knew them at the time These include letters from lovers, teachers and acquaintances, and reminiscences of fellow students It seems well researched, with occasional footnotes to help you place subsidiary events in context.
I wouldn t call it easy reading, although it is interesting I definitely wouldn t call it gri Were The Most Famous Sisters In China As The Country Battled Through A Hundred Years Of Wars, Revolutions And Seismic Transformations, The Three Soong Sisters From Shanghai Were At The Center Of Power, And Each Of Them Left An Indelible Mark On HistoryRed Sister, Ching Ling, Married The Father Of China , Sun Yat Sen, And Rose To Be Mao S Vice ChairLittle Sister, May Ling, Became Madame Chiang Kai Shek, First Lady Of Pre Communist Nationalist China And A Major Political Figure ¶ read ↠´ Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang ↠´ In Her Own RightBig Sister, Ei Ling, Became Chiang S Unofficial Main Adviser And Made Herself One Of China S Richest WomenAll Three Sisters Enjoyed Tremendous Privilege And Glory, But Also Endured Constant Mortal Danger They Showed Great Courage And Experienced Passionate Love, As Well As Despair And Heartbreak They Remained Close Emotionally, Even When They Embraced Opposing Political Camps And Ching Ling Dedicated Herself To Destroying Her Two Sisters Worlds Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister Is A Gripping Story Of Love, War, Intrigue, Bravery, Glamour And Betrayal, Which Takes Us On A Sweeping Journey From Canton To Hawaii To New York, From Exiles Quarters In Japan And Berlin To Secret Meeting Rooms In Moscow, And From The Compounds Of The Communist Elite In Beijing To The Corridors Of Power In Democratic Taiwan In A Group Biography That Is By Turns Intimate And Epic, Jung Chang Reveals The Lives Of Three Extraordinary Women Who Helped Shape Twentieth Century China