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Blossoms and Bayonets: A Story of Love, Faith and Courage under Japanese Occupation [Kindle Edition]

Jana McBurney-Lin , Hi-Dong Chai
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

"McBurney-Lin crafts…an engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end." --Midwest Book Review

"Impossible to put down—or to forget—authors’ grippingly suspenseful and deeply affecting historical novel limns the lives of a Korean family under Japanese rule with astonishing grace and power."
--Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

"Riveting internal dialogue and narration interspersed with quotes from those running the war efforts on various fronts combine to compel the reader forward. I say compel rather than propel, because I had to read. I had to know how this family and those around them would fare in the end."—Keri Rojas, bookseller at Cornerstone Cottage, Hampton, IA.

Hi-Dong Chai and Jana McBurney-Lin, the award-winning author of My Half of the Sky, turn their hands to a remarkable story of a family and country torn apart by outside forces.

The time is 1942, the place, Japanese-occupied Seoul, Korea. Fifteen-year-old He-Seung is full of fire, ready to take on these Japanese…if only he could convince his father, a Christian minister more concerned about saving his flock in a time when Emperor-worship has become mandatory.

Since occupation, the Japanese have eradicated the Korean language, names, even the country’s flower. Now they are seeking Korean boys as volunteers for their army. When his father is arrested by the Japanese, however, He-Seung must swallow his hatred of the enemy. Even harder, he must leave his mother and baby brother He-Dong to fend for themselves.

Based on a true story, Blossoms & Bayonets is suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period. The story lends an eyewitness perspective to events as they unfold. revealing an era of nuance and complexity, and shedding a bit of light on why --and how--one war led to the next.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1439 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Redwood Publishing (October 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,076 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! August 27, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a compelling story—based on the author's real-life experiences—that exposes the tragedies and horrors of war as told mainly from the viewpoints of a young boy, a teenage boy, and their mother.

What I found most interesting and important about this book is that it details the reality of war, and what families actually go through day to day, from the perspective of people who are living through it. Like many in my generation (Gen X), I've grown up knowing that wars are going on in various parts of the world, but they always felt very far away and didn't seem to directly impact the lives of people around me. "Blossoms and Bayonets" makes the experience of wartime feel personal and gives a glimpse into how innocent people's lives can be completely torn apart...with the underlying message that we should all reconsider our behavior, on personal and global scales, and find ways to reconcile our differences so that we can avoid serious conflicts in the first place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book November 1, 2012
By lynn
Format:Kindle Edition
After reading my half of the sky which is not something I would normally read (stephen king, mary higgins clarke, wendy corsi staub etc) I was very excited to
see Jana McBurney-Lin had another book which is just as good as the first. I hope
she will publish more in the near future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exellent Read May 13, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of my best reads in years. Blossoms and Bayonets drew me right in. Once I read a few chapters, I just couldn’t put it down. I also loved the juxtaposition of the historic quotes that graced the beginning of every chapter with the true to life real life stories of what the characters were experiencing during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The book exemplifies the true art of storytelling. The quotes range from Japanese ministers and radio announcers to Churchill and General MacArthur and each hints at a parallel story without any further explanation, letting our imagination fill in the gaps. This book definitely meets my spine tingle test — meaning there are revelations in the story that stirred emotions in me even before I fully understood what was going on. My hats off to Jana McBurney-Lin and her inspiration Hi-Dong Chai. And, don’t miss the Interview with Hi-Dong Chai at the very end of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story hits close to home, as the granddaughter of one of the characters this fiction was loosely based on. I never knew my ancestor's story and with each page, began to restore a family history that has been lost for so many years. Reading Blossoms and Bayonets was like putting together a delightful puzzle of mystery, heartbreak, and love that deepens with every chapter, until the final pages, where I emotionally was brought to tears in absorbing a history that few have ever known.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important slice of history April 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I learned that Jana McBurney-Lin's second book is a fictionalized memoir, I appreciated her magical ability to transform HeDong's actual story into such a readable, compelling tale! I was struck by the book's subject matter, which had its own bleakness (like Stones from the River) and yet how much wanna-read-more this tale and McBurney-Lin's writing induced. McBurney-Lin excels at bringing the reader into the various characters' experiences; she is clearly a student of humankind and familial relationships. I really enjoyed the window into what it was like in Korea under Japanese occupation, too. If I were a student learning about this era of history, I would so much rather read a book like this than some dry, factual history book! I eagerly await anything new that McBurney-Lin offers in the future ... be it the much-anticipated sequel to My Half of the Sky, or anything else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preacher's kid's tough coming of age January 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Why do tyrants persecute Christian churches? He-Dong, his older brothers, and mother describe trying to show Christian love to all people in the late 1930s and early 1940s as the Japanese occupiers of their town in Korea are recruiting people for World War II. This is an engaging account of a family making do when church, father, home and brother have been taken in the occupation. I read it on a Kindle and was surprised to learn it's over 400 pages long - so it must be well written in an obviously effective collaboration between Hi-Dong Chai who furnished the story and Jana McBurney-Lin who worked over the words. At least that's how I imagine it was written. For me the book was a huge surprise. I've known Dr. Chai as a kindly tutor in the art of designing voice-coil motors for disk drives. Whenever I consulted him, he reminded me that we are both preacher's kids. But I had no idea till I read the book how difficult it must have been to be a preacher's kid trying to follow Christ's teachings in a country going to war.

Why do tyrants persecute Christian churches? Blossoms and Bayonets doesn't bother to ask that pedantic question. What it does address is how Christians respond and continue to love one another in the face of cruelty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of brutality in Korea during World War II December 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a former resident of Korea (I was a Peace Corps volunteer there in the 1970s) and a student of its language, history, and culture, I enjoyed this book very much. It tells a story that is often overlooked, about the brutal Japanese rule before and during WWII. We're all familiar with the concept of "comfort women"--the sex slaves that the Japanese forced into service from Korea and their other "colonies"--but this book puts a face on that atrocity, as well as the conscription of young Korean men and the abuse of Korean patriots.

The story is told by three narrators--two Korean boys and their mother--beginning from just before the start of the war. It's a harrowing tale, and one definitely worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Narrative felt awkward and artificial, couldn't connect
Based on the true story of co-author Hi-Dong Chai, Blossoms and Bayonets is the fictional coming-of-age story of 15-year-old He-Seung, the middle child in a Korean Christian family... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Monika
5.0 out of 5 stars An important addition to the literature of war.
This is a fantastic book and I hope it finds a wide readership. I think it would spark some great discussion in high school or college history or literature courses (or for home... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Chris Wolak
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and heartbreaking...definitely a must read!
Originally posted this at

In Blossoms and Bayonets, we follow the lives and experiences of the Chai family and also get glimpses into the lives of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ms.NoseinaBook
4.0 out of 5 stars A new experience for me, one that I thoroughly enjoyed!
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Alina

Beware of spoilers

I don’t normally read books about war or violence in general, I believe life is hard enough as it is,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by OpenBookSociety dot com
5.0 out of 5 stars Isn’t it strange how all of our games are miniature versions of war?
The Japanese Occupation is a historic moment. I learnt about it when I was in primary school and my dad ocasionally talks about it during mealtimes. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Priscilla and her Books
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Account of Korea During WWII
First of all, the subject matter of this book is too serious for my normal snark. So I will dispense with it - for this one time only! The book talks about Seoul, Korea in 1942. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lloyd Russell - The Book Sage
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
A wonderful story. It was so personal that I thought I was living the joys and heartaches with the family. Read more
Published 18 months ago by charlotte
5.0 out of 5 stars One satisfied reader for Blossoms and Bayonets
A great story based on fiction and fact, which made a great read. The writer's voice was right on. The point of narration characters were believable and intriguing. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Bob
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