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Posted June 6, 2002
An insight into China from an 'outsider' persepctive...
While reading the book Red China Blues, I found it fascinating and well written. For a person having little background in Chinese history it was remarkably easy to understand. Jan Wong clearly explains everything so that the non-Chinese reader can understand the Chinese culture and the experiences she had there. It is enjoyable to read about how Ms. Wong matures, and the way she makes her own coming of age parallel China's as a whole is fascinating. Because she is a Canadian, western readers will find that the book makes references that they can relate to and understand. I found this very helpful when reading about Chinese culture for the first time. On a more literary note, Ms. Wong had clear descriptions of people, places, and events which were neither too short to make much sense nor too long as to be a burden on the flow of the story. It moves swiftly, and it is sometimes frustrating that she spends a long time on some topics and what one feels is not enough on others. It is well-written however, and all the topics she discusses about her stay in China all make sense within the context of the story. On a scale of one to ten I would rate this book an eight because her cynicism often permeates early parts of the book where she is trying to convey her love of Maoism. This historical perspective takes something away from an otherwise good book that has many qualities to recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 25, 2002
An excellent perspective to Chinese history
Jan Wong¿s Red China Blues provides a unique, intimate perspective on China from the Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square and beyond. Reading the book is like listening to an old friend, as Wong writes in very candid and straightforward fashion. What the book lacks in figurative language, it makes up for in hilarious anecdotes and deep insight. Wong is a Canadian-born Chinese, who goes to China because she has come to support Mao and Communism during the tumultuous sixties and early seventies. She begins studying in China, becoming a full-fledged Maoist. Working in the fields, she experiences life as a native Chinese during the Cultural Revolution. It is very interesting to see Wong¿s outlook and opinions change as she lives through Chinese history including Mao¿s death, and Tiananmen Square. The depictions of the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 are extremely intense. Working as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Wong had bullets whiz by her head as she experienced the atrocities first hand. It is interesting to see Wong mature from the naïve Maoist to the savvy skeptical reporter. The reader empathizes with Wong very much as he or she begins to understand her feelings towards China. Wong¿s personal reactions to the historical events in China closely mimic the entire national sentiment. Coming from a westerner, these experiences help western readers identify with someone on the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, such as a third world farmer, or a peasant in a small village.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 26, 2001
Excellent History Lesson/Engaging Autobiography
As a person who, before reading this book, had no knowledge of Red China, I found it to be very engaging and informative. Jan Wong¿s autobiographical account of her experience in Mao and post-Mao China provide the reader with a believer¿s opinion of Communism. This is perfect for the ready who isn¿t experienced in modern Chinese history, because it shows how the corruptions of the system slowly changed Wong¿s feelings for the Chinese way of life. When she left Montreal to go to China, and live as a socialist student, Jan Wong believed strongly in the ideal of communism, and in the teachings of Mao Zedong, but as the story progressed, she found her views changed with respect to the Chinese version of communism. Wong grows up over the course of the book, and becomes much less susceptible to the kind of brainwashing that the communists first tried to use on her. Instead of becoming intimidated by the communist supporters, she became contemptuous often. For instance, the government had her followed for the moths following Tiananmen Square, but she made a game out of trying to lose the car that followed her. One of the most strongly emphasized points in the book is the protest and subsequent massacre at Tiananmen Square. There are three full chapters devoted to the description of the events leading up to Tiananmen Square, the riotous days of student protest, and the effects afterwards. These chapters are among the most poignant and emotional in any book, made all the more meaningful by the fact that this was a historical account. Jan Wong¿s book, Red China Blues, thoroughly lives up to its subtitle, My Long March From Mao to Now. Wong was able to look back on her life and understand that some of the things that she did were misguided. For example, when she and her American classmate, Erica, turned in their Chinese classmate Yin Luoyi for trying to get to America, Wong 'actually thought that we were doing the rig thing. It was for her sake. We weren¿t trying to get points for ourselves.' The simple fact that she grew from the time that she first went to China, and became a better person through her experiences vindicates her actions in the book, as she truly did believe that what she did was right.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.