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Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China's Eternal First Lady Paperback – September 1, 2007
"The Most Wanted Man in China" by Fang Lizhi
My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State | Check out "The Most Wanted Man in China".
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The Nationalist regime, headed by her husband, was hated by the Chinese people for its notorious brutality and corruption. But as portrayed by Madame Chiang, especially to American audiences, Chiang Kai-shek's government was a modern, educated bulwark of democracy and freedom for a country whose history had allowed little of either. Indeed, Madame Chiang personified the vaunted hopes, bitter disappointments and complex misunderstandings of the U.S.-China relationship, which vacillated wildly during her exceptional 105-year lifetime. Laura Tyson Li's incisive new biography, rises to the tall task of capturing this pivotal figure in all her splendor and humiliation, against a backdrop of war, revolution and unending political turmoil. Li, a journalist with a decade of experience in Asia, accurately portrays her as "beautiful, vain, witty, spirited, capricious, scheming, selfish, and driven."
What a character. What a tale.
The book opens in the waning days of China's second-to-last emperor in the late 1890s, when Mayling Olive Soong was born in Shanghai, the youngest daughter of a businessman who had made a fortune selling Bibles and presided over a family of savvy, idealistic and recklessly ambitious children. One married Sun Yat-sen, China's first president. Another became finance minister and acting prime minister of Nationalist China. Another became one of China's richest women. Mayling became Madame Chiang Kai-shek.Read more ›
While almost every aspect of this life is intriguing, certain people and episodes stand out. I had forgotten Zhang Xueliang until he emerged after a 50 year house arrest, after which he & his wife move to Hawaii. Apparently he was able to keep his pre-war fortune, or had been cared for financially; he is deemed a friend of the Madame. (Another 5 year house arrest of a physician who botches an operation of the General suggests house arrest is a common punishment for "friends" and other professionals.) Madame's war time US appeal for funds, with its cross country caravan of staff whom MCKS treats "as coolies" is certainly an episode worth a small volume. (The $800,000 she raises goes to her personal account.) While the Wendel Wilkie relationship (true or false) is intriguing, I fixed on the William H. Donald relationship, which may have been a professional friendship and refuge from her husband's authoritarianism, but her end of life treatment of him suggests something else.
There are a host of issues worthy of their own books. Perhaps these books exist but I don't know about them. One issue is the "arrival" of 2 million mainlanders to the island of Formosa, who's 7 million citizens seemed to have some degree of prosperity under the Japanese. While the Chaings arrive with resources, others huddle in makeshift places and cry at night.Read more ›
Second, despite what other reviewers felt it was in fact quite obvious the author greatly dislikes Madame Chaing. In places she goes so far as to blatenly mock her! Biographies are best when the can relate in some way to the subject. Although their are many positives in Madame Chaing's life they were delivered as though each good act was for some personal gain. The author failed to elaborate.
Most importertly I had to set this book aside several times from boredom and frustration. Having read thousands of biographies I have set aside less than a handfull because of poor/dry writing or bias. This is the first I did so for both reasons. I forced myself to read a chapter before allowing myself to start another book. In this way I finally completed the book.
In conclusion I admit I do have a new wealth of knowledge about a large array of topics. I do not, however, have ANY sense of who Madame Chaig truly was as a powerful woman whose lived in three centuries this fact sheet is devoid of any life.
Epilogue - shameful, unnessary subligation.
Diane C. Donovan
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book's condition is exactly as described, arrived quickly, and damage free.
If one enjoyed reading "The Soong Dynasty" by Sterling Seagrave, this book would be the perfect... Read more
Very good book! Finally I really understand this whole complex Chinese history starting from the past 100 years. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Puma70
I don't typically read biographies, but on the recommendation of Amazon reviewers, I picked up Li's _Madame Chiang Kai-Shek_. Read morePublished on November 8, 2013 by doc peterson
Mayling Soong, the future Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, born in 1898, was the fourth child of Christian parents and had her school and university education in the United States. Read morePublished on August 19, 2013 by Ralph Blumenau
This is a very readable biography of a life that lasted over a century.
Soong Mayling was born in the 19th century and lived to see the 21st. Read more
I found this book to be a fantastic biography regarding the life of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Laura Tyson Li did a great job not only providing a great amount of detail - both... Read morePublished on May 29, 2013 by Antoine
I found this book very thorough and interesting. I grew up in Taiwan and thought I know a lot about her but still I learned so much from this book. Read morePublished on March 17, 2013 by John in NJ