China Witness: Book summary and reviews of China Witness by Xinran Xue

China Witness

Voices from a Silent Generation

by Xinran Xue

China Witness
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2009
    448 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

From the highly praised author of The Good Woman of China and Sky Burial--an extraordinary work of oral history that illuminates the diverse ways in which the Chinese perceive and understand their own modern history.

While the West has commonly viewed the last one hundred years in China through the single narrative lens of Mao’s rise and rule, the experience of this same period for the Chinese themselves has been infinitely more complex, and little understood. And perhaps no one is more capable of tapping into the true narrative of this time than Xinran, a national celebrity and beloved figure in China by virtue of her hugely popular radio show, which aired in the 1990s.

In 2005 and 2006, Xinran traveled across China seeking out the nation’s grandparents and great-grandparents, the men and women who have experienced change in the modern era firsthand. In cities and remote villages, Xinran spoke with members of these generations from all tiers of society, interviewing them for the first and perhaps last time. And though most of them continue to harbor a fear of repercussions for speaking freely, they spoke to Xinran with stunning candor about their hopes, fears, and struggles, and about what they’ve witnessed: from the Long March to land reform, from Mao to marriage, from revolution to Westernization.

In the same way that Studs Terkel’s Working and Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation gave us the essence of very particular times, China Witness gives us the essence of modern China--a portrait more intimate, nuanced, and revelatory than any we have had before.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] stirring, startlingly honest account of life under Chairman Mao and the current reformers revamping the socialist state." - Publishers Weekly.

"Prolix, tangential and engrossing, Xinran's interviews offer an invaluable social history that textbooks don't reveal." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Xinran Xue Author Biography

Xinran was born in Beijing in 1958. From 1989 to 1997, she worked as a radio-presenter and journalist, hosting the program 'Words on the Night Breeze', in which she invited women to call in and share their life stories. Xinran not only talked to these women on the radio, she went and met them, accumulating material from the thousands of women she interviewed. In 1997, she travelled to London, where she now lives. It was here that Xinran was able to write these stories down for the first time. In July 2002, they appeared in Britain in the form of a book, The Good Women of China, which has now been published all over the world in more than 30 languages, becoming an international bestseller.

Sky Burial, her second book, was published in 2004. This is the compelling ...

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Name Pronunciation
Xinran Xue: Shu-ay Shin-Ran

Other books by Xinran Xue at BookBrowse
  • Sky Burial jacket
  • Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother jacket
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