the rise of Communism
real taste of China
When I mentioned to my friend Holly that I wanted to read fewer books written by white men in New York (my attempts to read The Classics were ultimately frustrating, and I’m still glowering at a stack of Hemingway on my bedroom floor, trying to decide whether to read them before shipping them off to a friend) she immediately told me to read some Chinese history! She was so excited – she’d studied it in school – and gave me a list of books to start with.
This book was delightful! I particularly loved that the author spent a lot of time explaining Chinese culture/traditions, not in a lecture-y way, but when something significant would happen that didn’t fit within Western norms, she’d quickly explain what we needed to know.
Also, I loved the…immediacy of her storytelling. There wasn’t a lot of foreshadowing, or flashing back, but she told each generation’s story in present tense, which really draws the reader in. (Confession: at one point, when the Communists first take over the country, I was legit excited about all the positive changes they made, and remember thinking to myself, “Communism seems like a really great thing! Why does it have such a bad reputation?” Things turned sour fairly quickly, but I really credit the honesty of the storytelling, and my complete ignorance around the topic, for that moment of discovery.)