Gwen Chen, born in 1937 in China, was motherless at two, unwanted by her stepmother and ignored by her busy father. Her uncle adopted and molested her. Later Gwen became a top student and graduated from the prestigious Taiwan University. In U.S. she earned a Ph.D. and a happy life.
Shadows in the Lotus Poolby Gwen Chen
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Shadows in the Lotus Pool is a story of my father Deng Wen-yi’s close and sometimes tempestuous relationship with China’s autocratic ruler Chiang Kai-shek during the turbulent events of 20th century China. As the first class cadet in Whampoa Military Academy and platoon leader in the succeeding Eastern Expedition, Wen-yi develops a lifelong unwavering loyalty to his Commandant and Generalissimo Chiang.
Early as a young officer, Wen-yi uncovers a Communist plot to incite uprisings against Chiang in several major cities. His participation in planning and carrying out a successful preemptive strike to abort the riot in Guangzhou catapults him to the rank of Major General at age twenty two. Wen-yi emerges from the trials to hold important posts as the Generalissimo’s personal secretary and Executive Aide, head of an intelligence and anti-corruption strike force, Chinese Military Attaché in Moscow, and Secretary-General of the powerful Lixingshe (Blue Shirt Society). He is swept into a series of adventures that brings praise, demotion, disgrace, and exoneration. Through it all, Wen-yi discovers a surprising gentler side to the feared Nationalist leader.
Wen-yi’s frequent unauthorized actions, including deployment of troops to protect the kidnapped Generalissimo while the government emergency council continues to debate options for a response during the Xian Incident, bring only censure. Heartbroken Wen-yi must deal with disgrace, the slaughter of his father by bandits, and the loss of his young wife. At the end of the Chinese civil war, Wen-yi is reviled by Mao Ze-dong for publicly opposing Mao’s terms of surrender. The story chronicles the painful decline in the fortunes of Chiang and his flight with members of his inner circle, including my father, to the island of Taiwan, where, from tragic beginnings the island is transformed into a democratic republic with a spectacular growth in economic power. Following the Nationalist retreat to Taiwan my father coaches Chiang’s son, Ching-kuo, to succeed him as Head of the Political Bureau within the National Defense Ministry. Wen-yi is appointed Head of the Taiwan Provincial Nationalist Party and later vice-Minister of Interior. In 1991 China’s paramount leader Deng Xiao-ping invites Wen-yi to Beijing for personal discussions on the future relationship of China and Taiwan.
This is also the heart-rending story of Wen-yi’s daughter, Deng Yuan-yu. At age two she loses her mother Bai-jian, who refuses to take medications for her tuberculosis because of their potential harm to the fetus she is carrying. Yuan-yu now becomes a weed, unwanted by Wen-yi’s new wife and shunted from one family to another as she struggles to find acceptance and love amidst the indifference and selfishness of her wards. She is finally adopted by her aunt and an uncle who molests her repeatedly. After escaping to Taiwan at the end of China civil war, Yuan-yu finds joy in becoming a good student and undergoes a gradual transformation. She excels in school and graduates from the prestigious Taiwan University. In the U.S. she receives a Ph.D. in Chemistry and enjoys a successful career as a research scientist.
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Events in China, primarily in the early to mid-twentieth century, are seen through the lives of Gwen Chen and her family members, permitting readers an insight into the human side of history. The research behind the book is extensive and enables the authors to paint a detailed picture of the time period in which her father lived. And to reveal events unknown to the average American that may explain current attitudes in modern-day China and Taiwan. Amid all of the historical events is also the poignant story of a young lady growing up under trying circumstances and flourishing in spite of them.
SHADOWS IN THE LOTUS POOL It is amazing to me. Growing up on the East Coast, born in 1930, and subject to East Coast news, media, and attention, China got little recognition - was little known. The only reference I can recall was my father's comments regarding Madam Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang's emissary to the U S for financial help, but very graceful, charming, effective, and an excellent representative for China. And that's about all we knew. The book is a startling, informative, and excellent expose' into what went on in the 1930s and 1940s in China that we were hardly aware of and ignorant. Gwen and you wrote an excellent story. .the culture of the many wars, war-lords, loss of so many lives, infidelities, back stabbing, abuse, insecurity, power struggles, poverty, extravagance of the high, in such a large land area, was educative. I learned some things. Howard Seebach