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Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos [Kindle Edition]

Emily Wu , Larry Engelmann
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $6.11 (34%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Emily Wu’s account of her childhood under Mao opens on her third birthday, as she meets her father for the first time in a concentration camp. A well-known academic, her father had been designated an “ultra-rightist” and class enemy. As a result, Wu’s family would be torn apart and subjected to unending humiliation and abuse. Wu recounts this hidden holocaust in which millions of children and their families died. Feather in the Storm is an unforgettable story of the courage of one child in a quicksand world of endless terror.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is a fascinating but problematic book: fascinating for its narrative of personal survival through chaotic times, glimpses of childhood during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and as a case study in adult reconstruction of traumatic childhood experience; problematic because it is presented as memoir "in the unadorned, heartrending voice of a child." All recollection is reconstructed, but by calling this a memoir, are we diverted from seeing it, perhaps properly, as historical fiction? Wu has a story to tell, but Engelmann's role is unclear and inspires wariness. The book draws equally on oral history, adult memories, and the narrative techniques of survival tales and conversion stories, veering painfully close to formula fiction and feeding a relentlessly negative stereotype of rural life. Capitalizing chaos throughout casts Wu's story as a cosmic struggle, and personal stories cast as cosmic struggles have enabled more than one cultural revolution by diverting attention from what Steinbeck called "bad things made by men." Such simplifications will draw readers, one hopes, to search further for a China beyond stereotypes. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Feather in the Storm represents a magnificent accomplishment. Here is the truly timely tale of a world in revolutionary chaos as suffered and seen by an innocent and powerless child. Emily Wu's memoir is a story for all times–heart-wrenching, chilling, inspiring and above all unforgettable.” —Anchee Min, author of Red Azalea“With passion, candor, and restraint, Feather in the Storm tells a young girl’s story of growing up in a violent, revolution-battered China. . . . This rich, unique, heartbreaking narrative is about human cruelty, foolishness and decency, and is ultimately a testimony to indomitable human tenacity and vitality.” —Ha Jin, author of Waiting, winner of the National Book Award“Wu rises from the ashes of death and destruction to give voice to the lost and tortured innocent souls of her haunting childhood.” —San Francisco Chronicle“A starkly vivid memoir. . . . Throughout this compelling work, her voice is quiet and steady, underscoring the violent capriciousness of Wu’s childhood under Mao. By the end, we’re more than readers; we’ve become her witnesses.” —Newsweek

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4805 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00125MK3C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,526 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book and an inspiring story of courage October 4, 2006
What a harrowing and yet beautiful set of memories Emily shares with us in this book. It's a painful story illustrating the loss of innocence that so many children suffered at the hands of a brutal regime, but it is also a story of courage and hope and renewal.

The prose flows nicely and provides the reader with a clear, visual feast of details, which helps put the story in context for those of us who are not scholars of Chinese history.

Emily's story is a testament to the enduring resiliency of children and their capacity to survive, forgive and prosper. Read this lovely memoir and be inspired!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story both heartbreaking and uplifting October 14, 2006
This book was a revelation to me. It moved me as few other books I have read have, and from the moment I began reading it I could not put it down. Emily Wu's story is a poignant and compelling memoir that describes in intimate detail the impact that China's Cultural Revolution had on her, as a young girl, and on her family. In a beautifully written narrative, Wu tells of the ongoing humiliation, horror and abuse that she and those she loved endured over a period of nineteen years. The book provides insight into the terrible human tragedy and cost inflicted on millions of Chinese, and especially children, by Chairman Mao's so-called Great Leap Forward. But Emily's story is more than that. It is also an unforgettable testament to the human spirit and the will to survive. This is a tale of courage that will affect and inspire everyone who reads it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars View of China Usually Hidden from Americans October 18, 2006
Feather in the Storm provided me with a stunning insights of life in China during the Cultural Revolution. Emily Wu's recounts through both her memories and extensive research the turbulent and often terrifying lost childhood she experienced. The story is powerful, heartbreaking, a testimony to man's inhumanity to man, and ultimately a tribute to the human spirit that holds out for hope and a future.

In today's atmosphere in which political expediency urges us to not look too closely at the historical record of the half-century rule of the totalitarian communist regime, Emily Wu's story of what happened to millions of Chinese caught up in the Cultural Revolution is a needed corrective. Many of these "feathers in a storm" arbitrarily lost their homes and jobs, families, their dreams and -- by the tens of millions -- their lives. What Emily Wu never lost was her hope for the future, and her hope came to fruition. However, her story of survival includes the story of countless decent people who became statitics of death during the nightmare years of the 1960s and 70s.

The book is beautifully written with wonderful images and stories of friendship and family solidarity. This is a must-read for anyone interested in China, the forces that have shaped the world we live in today, and a wonderful story of human survival against great odds. I loved this book and highly recommend it. It is a story you will never forget!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Frank of China October 18, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Feather in the Storm is to Asia in our time what the Diary of Anne Frank is to Europe in World War II. Emily Wu's autobiographical tale of a little girl caught up helplessly in the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution in China is both heart breaking and inspiring. This is the sort of beautifully composed prose that breaks your heart and then, in the end, encourages you to have hope for the future. Emily Wu is a survivor of an incredibly cruel government and society. Thank goodness she has provided this testament so that those who were lost will not be forgotten and that those who were responsible will also not be forgotten.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Emily Wu's vivid memories create a heartbreaking story of growing up in China under Mao. Although many years have passed, Emily writes with fresh emotion about her childhood experiences: we are immediately drawn in. This book is an opportunity to see through a child's eyes during this bewildering and chaotic time in China. If we think children do not see and hear everything, we are mistaken. Children are often "under the radar." Emily is frequently unseen--hidden in a tree or in a barn--observing and recording the events she is witnessing.

Emily's family was persecuted because her father was an intellectual, a professor of English, and worse yet, he had studied in America. So the family's treatment was particularly harsh. One feels the impact of the enormity of the harsh treatment because it is being suffered by a child who has done nothing to deserve it.

The book gives insight into politics, education, childhood, and mass psychology. The question,"How could a phenomenon like the Cultural Revolution happen?" crosses your mind as you are reading. China's growing position and power in the world today, makes it important for us to know its past.

Emily's book is testament to survival under terrible, often tragic conditions. One wonders how a child can survive these experiences and still have a smile on her face. A must read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down October 3, 2006
Feather in the Storm is to Mao's China what Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes is to early last century Ireland and the streets of NY - a heroic, beautifully written, honest, simple, clear and compelling story of a life lived under oppression (here of politics and communism, there of poverty, though these intersect). Lovely in its poetic truth, important in the victory of the author in surviving and telling her tale, and important in its history, this story should not be missed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing memoir of a hard life in China under Communist ...
Amazing memoir of a hard life in China under Communist leaders. People torn from their families and living in extremely difficult situations. A good read.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story. After reading the first sentence I was ...
An amazing story. After reading the first sentence I was hooked and couldn't put it down. Very memorable. Lyrically written.
I have highly recommended it to others.
Published 9 months ago by cat
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great book. It was hard to put down. However, it is not for the faint of heart. Very disturbing. My heart ached for the victims of this cruel, heartless regime. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ameena A.
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, and yet not
This was a fast read for me, a slow reader. I'd recommend reading "Wild Swans" first, if you haven't already, for more detail about the communist zeitgeist and its genesis. Read more
Published 22 months ago by D. Yang
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
Amazing love story and interesting to see how people live, content to be alone with little contact of other people. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Roz Schwartz-Fein
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwrenching story
I purchased this book from a local bookstore and read it almost non-stop. If you are interested in learning about what happened to intellectuals during the Mao era, this book... Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by ariccardi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I couldn't put this book down. This was a very interesting book and hard to stomach some of the horrific acts done to the people there. Read more
Published on April 10, 2010 by hcgolf4fun
5.0 out of 5 stars Please tell me more Ms. Wu
I loved this story. I hope Emily Wu writes more about her life and what led her to America. This was a beautiful story about how the cultural revolution in China robbed people of... Read more
Published on April 20, 2008 by Emily Braun
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing story
Feather in the Storm is a heart-wrenching and deeply moving story of a childhood lost in the terrors of Communist China. Read more
Published on January 31, 2008 by Armchair Interviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminder for more compassion
Emily Wu and Larry Engelmann book "Feather in the Storm", an amazing openess of Emily Wu's life and history of China during the Cultural Revolution. Read more
Published on June 13, 2007 by R. Le
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