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Grandmother’s Footsteps

Penelope Fitzgerald, 9 April 1992

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China 
by Jung Chang.
HarperCollins, 524 pp., £17.50, March 1992, 0 00 215357 2
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... Jung Chang’s grandmother, Yu Fang, walked ‘like a tender young willow in a spring breeze’, meaning that she could only totter because her feet had been bound and the arches crushed with a stone. If this was not done, a girl would be exposed to the contempt of her husband’s family and she would blame her mother for weakness ...

Jade and Plastic

Andrew Nathan: How bad was Mao?, 17 November 2005

Mao: The Unknown Story 
by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.
Cape, 814 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 224 07126 2
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... Mao Zedong’s long, wicked life has generated some lengthy biographies in English. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s is the longest, having overtaken Philip Short’s Mao (1999) and Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman Mao (1995). It represents an extraordinary research effort. The authors have been working on the project since at least 1986, to judge by the date of the earliest interview cited, which – and this is typical of the access they gained to many highly-placed and interesting people – was with Milovan Djilas ...

In the Hornets’ Nest

Pamela Crossley: Empress Dowager Cixi, 17 April 2014

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China 
by Jung Chang.
Cape, 436 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 224 08743 8
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... in a dozen books, as well as films and television series. Still, we evidently need more Cixi. Jung Chang does not merely repeat what are now truisms in the representation of Cixi – that she has been obscured by misogyny and orientalist stereotyping, as well as the anti-Manchu sentiment running through Chinese nationalist narratives – but also ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl Marx, 26 January 2006

Karl Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... rather than fulfilling their prophecy. Many readers of Attali’s book will combine it with Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story,† but a more general and just as penetrating counterpoint of failure and its effects appeared earlier, in Susan Buck-Morss’s Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West ...

Communists have parents too

John Gittings, 5 August 1993

... Chinese than with foreign history and literature, he thought like the founder of a dynasty’. Jung Chang, in Wild Swans, provides a sharper critique: Mao was a megalomaniac who ruled by exploiting the ugliest human instincts and created ‘a moral wasteland and a land of hatred’. In The New Emperors, Harrison Salisbury included over a dozen index ...


Perry Anderson: In Seoul, 17 October 1996

... between the two rival candidates of Kim Young Sam, from the south-east around Pusan, and Kim Dae Jung, from the south-west round Kwangju, allowing Chun’s military colleague Roh Tae Woo, a key conspirator in the coup of 1979-80, to win the Presidential elections. In 1990 Kim Young Sam joined forces with both Roh and Kim Jong Pil, Park’s key plotter in the ...

Wrong Again

Bruce Cumings: Korean War Games, 4 December 2003

... In 2002, the Bush Administration seemed to think the candidate of the old ruling party, Lee Hoi Chang, had a lock on the next Presidential election; when he came to Washington in the autumn, the Administration treated him like a king. Instead, the Korean people elected Roh Moo Hyun, a courageous lawyer who had defended many dissidents against the Chun and ...

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