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Life and Death in Shanghai Book Review

  • Date Submitted: 09/13/2010 04:28 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.1 
  • Words: 1118
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Life and Death in Shanghai, by Nien Cheng
New York: Penguin Book, 1988,547 pgs.
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng is a book that I would recommend to all readers who want to engulf themselves in Chinese Culture during the mid 1900’s. The book is perceived as more descriptive story and much different than any other book you will find.   It immerses you in both the elements of perseverance and bravery. A magnificently-written account of an educated, intellectual, and well-connected woman living in Mao's China during the Cultural Revolution will surely make you tremble as you learn of the never ending turn of events she was painfully put through.
During the Cultural Revolution, a political movement from 1966 to 1976, everything about Nien Cheng was suspected: she was the descendant of a rich landlord, had been educated in England, had lived in Australia, was the wife of a former Nationalist officer, and worked for a foreign firm, Shell Oil, after her husband died. It was inevitable that Mrs. Cheng would be persecuted. The book opens with the first days of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai. Shell, Mrs. Cheng's employer, had pulled out of China, and she was left without a guardian from the dark days ahead. The book follows her whirlwind experience attending struggle meetings, in which her former colleagues were humiliated and abused. The book’s disposition immediately turns when the looting and ransacking of her home by the teenage Red Guards occurs. Nien Cheng tells the story of her suffering at the hands of Mao's Red Guards. The Red Guards were human nature in action, responding to the circumstances of social revolution and empowered by a man they considered a hero -- a man of courage, self-sacrifice and intellectuality gone rotten -- Mao Zedong.
The middle of the book shows her experiences during her six years of imprisonment in which she refuses to confess of being a spy and in turn is viciously beaten and tortured. She is continuously accused of...


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