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Red Circle: China and Me, 1949-2009 tells the fascinating story of Stephen Chen and his family. It sketches the history of the People’s Republic of China, not merely as a backdrop, but as the driving force of the book’s action. Red Circle chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of an extraordinary family. At the same time, it is only one of countless stories that could be told by many millions of Chinese. It tells of the hope, turmoil, and terror in the first 30 years of the PRC and of the ...
Red Circle: China and Me, 1949-2009 tells the fascinating story of Stephen Chen and his family. It sketches the history of the People’s Republic of China, not merely as a backdrop, but as the driving force of the book’s action. Red Circle chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of an extraordinary family. At the same time, it is only one of countless stories that could be told by many millions of Chinese. It tells of the hope, turmoil, and terror in the first 30 years of the PRC and of the transformation, transition, and achievement in the last 30 years. Red Circle is the first work of its kind to cover the making of modern China.
The 60-year cycle encompassed by Red Circle is the basis of the traditional Chinese calendar, astrology, and cosmology. The cyclical nature of life and a return to one’s roots are fundamental elements in Stephen’s story. The ways in which his life reflects and completes that of his father, the stunning symmetries and recurring cycles of Red Circle make for a remarkable read.
Stephen has seen China from a range of vantage points that few others have experienced. From the palace he grew up in to brutal labor camps to corporate boardrooms, from stark prisons to secret government offices, Stephen has witnessed history. Red Circle is, however, more than the tale of how a family survives or a nation emerges. At its heart, Red Circle is a thrilling testament to the indomitable will and unconquerable spirit of the individual.
Posted April 7, 2010
I read your book over our university's spring break and wanted to take this opportunity to thank for telling your incredible story. The stories that you told were so fascinating that I could not put down the book.
Beyond being a great story, I feel that your book offered insight into China that I have never gotten through my education. I was continuously surprised with hardships the Chinese people faced and the similarities between how both China's culture and United States' culture have transformed through the years. The background information your book provided has helped me understand China better and will be useful for my travels to China this summer.
I am delighted to have had the chance to meet you, even for the short time that I was able to. I regret that I am unable to meet such great men as your father and grandfather. Again, thank you for sharing your wonderful story.
Posted March 5, 2010
The only thing I did not like about Red Circle was that it ended! What an amazing life story woven artfully and so sensitively! Stephen Songsheng Chen's descriptive detail made me feel like I was walking in his shadow in China or wherever he happened to be at the moment. Red Circle is a warm and wonderful tribute to the Chen family; from a frugal grandfather who saved 20 silver coins throughout times of great poverty so he could give them to his son to make a better life in the big city; to Stephen's father, a highly respected professor, patriot, and successful entrepreneur, unjustly scorned during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution; to Stephen's own rise and fall and rise again, a master of English and lover of Chinese opera who achieved great acclaim as a performer. Outcast as the son of a Rightist, Stephen served two terms in labor camps until an amazing twist of fate rescued him from herding sheep in a far western province. From there, as Stephen's uncle once told him, the wide highway stretched before him, and, at almost 71, he's still raring to go! For an excellent view of China then and now and of a great family's survival, Red Circle enlightens, amazes, and touches the heart. I wish I could give Red Circle more than five stars!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2009
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Red Circle: China and Me 1949-2009 by Stephen Songsheng Chen provides a remarkable view of the emergence of modern China from the vantage of a person intimately involved in its creation. This well-written, fast-paced memoir by a Chinese American recounts how the Chen family starting from humble origins living in caves in 1914 in the Yanmen village in Henan province became one of the wealthiest families in Beijing, China's capital by 1949, the year that the People's Republic of China was founded. Stephen's father, Pinzhi Chen, a scholar of French language and literature, and his mother Fu Junying, became Red Capitalists, initially tolerated and later exploited by the Mao's regime. While almost all the wealth and cultural treasures were lost as a result of government campaigns against the wealthy, particularly the Cultural Revolution - 1966-1976, Stephen and his family never gave up their struggle or their principles to serve China. Stephen studied English and after his studies specialized in translation of materials about metallurgy, engineering and manufacturing from English to Chinese. In part as a result of his success and that he was dealing with foreign, English matters, in 1970 he was sent to a labor camp to be re-educated. After nearly two years in late 1971 he was released and sent to Beijing to work as a member of the translation and interpretation team for the visit of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. This assignment led to the opportunity to emigrate to the US to first study English in a doctoral program at the University of Arizona and later to be involved in a series of manufacturing joint ventures starting with the Jeep, followed by GM, Flxible, A. O. Smith, Otis and others working in a senior executive role. Eventually, this led to the formation of Amerihua which provided advise and management services to Western firms seeking to do business in China. Amerihua also began manufacturing gift items at plants in China for the US market. Stephen Chen is now one of the more successful Chinese - American entrepreneurs and returning to his initial love which is culture - writing and the Peking Opera where he is a consummate performer. The book provides a fascinating introduction to Chinese culture and history and gives a sense of further surprising developments that may emerge from the US-China relationship. The book is also a testimony to the human spirit surviving under the most difficult conditions imaginable to emerge strengthened when times change.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.