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The DRAGON'S PEARL Hardcover – July 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671795465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671795467
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,680,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1956, when Bangkok-Beijing relations were tense, the prime minister of Thailand sent the two children of his principal adviser to China as a goodwill offering. They became the wards of Premier Zhou Enlai. The author of this memoir was one of those children. She was eight; her brother, then 12, plays an almost negligible role in these pages. The memoir only comes to life when Sirin, writing with freelancer Peck, relates how she was caught up in the Cultural Revoution in the mid-1960s. Accused of the crime of having been reared in a bourgeois Thai family and by the capitalist sympathizer Zhou, she was forced to denounce her family in public. Then, in an almost miraculous turn of events, Sirin became a Communist Party heroine by saving two children in a fire--but she was required to announce that her deed was inspired by the teachings of Chairman Mao. Though she tends to exaggerate her importance as an instrument of diplomacy, Sirin's memoir provides a valuable eyewitness account of the Cultural Revolution. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1956, at the height of the Cold War, Thailand was trying to survive the power struggle between China and the United States in Asia. The new government desperately needed American money for its unstable economy, yet it could not ignore the threat posed by China, which had just demonstrated its strength in the Korean Peninsula. While the Thai government openly welcomed Americans and denounced China, it secretly sent the children of a political leader to China as a sign of goodwill, thus replaying the act of making human pledge practiced in China throughout history. At the age of eight, Sirin was sent with her 12-year-old brother to China, where they were "hostages" for 14 years. Her detailed account of the political scheme, her bittersweet memories of living in China and being raised under Premier Zhou En-lai's auspices, and her vivid description of Chinese policy makers make this book a unique diplomatic history of Thailand and China. Recommended for all libraries.
--Mark Meng, St. John's Univ. Lib., New York
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Benton on August 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For a child of the 50s and the 60s, I find myself woefully ignorant of what was happening the world when I grew up. The Dragon's Pearl describes the childhood of a girl about my age - but on the other side of the world.

China was and is frightening to many of us who have grown up in the US and in Europe. But it was a complete surprise to me that the US essentially held Thailand by the noose after the war - fearing the Chinese so much that they threatened to pull needed money and help out of Thailand if Thailand had any contact with China.

This story is of a Thai child who was placed in China - as a connection of good will between political strategists in Thailand and China. It almost got her killed.

The author weaves a skillful tale - more colorful at the beginning than at the end, but colorful nevertheless. She tells a story that never appeared in MY history books, and I'm happy that I've added this book to my library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book back when it first came out and can't believe there are no reviews. There is also no information about this book but, I'm 99% sure it's the one I'm thinking of. I'll do my best. Sirin and her brother are children of the Royal Thai Family. This is a few years back before the war in Vietnam but the tension and pressure to make allegances is beginning to be felt. There is debate among the royals over which superpower to cozy up to; The US or China. Sirin's father favors the Hungry Dragon, China because they are a neighbor and the most powerful in the region, and he feels it will be more beneficial in the long run. As a gesture of goodwill Sirin and her brother, the younger children, are sent to China to be brought up by the Communist leaders, Chairman Mao and Zhou, En Lai. The two of them lead a lonely but elite sheltered life until the Cultural Revolution is launched. Communist leaders turn on each other and foreigners are treated with suspicion and contempt. Sirin and her brother lose their protected status and are sent down to the countryside to shovel pig manure. Eventually Sirin marries a foreigner and gets out of China.

This story is so interesting because of Sirin's unusual position, her close relationship with Zhou, En Lai and other top ranking leaders of that era, as well as her perserverance when she goes from royalty to manure shoveling.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A senior Thai politician, Sang Phathanothai, is skeptical of Thailand's Cold War U.S. connections. With the approval of the Prime Minister he sends his young son and daughter to grow up in China as a gesture of good will. The daughter, Sirin, recounts her life with Liao Chenghzi, Zhou Enlai and others forty years later.
Some absolutely fascinating glimpses of the Chinese elite (Zhou saying one thing in public while admitting to her that people are starving during the Great Leap Forward; Mao at a swimming pool with other leaders; Liao Chengzhi looking at the smashed remains of his house during the Cultural Revolution) as well as of Field Marshal Pibulsongkram, Pridi Phanomyong in exile from Thailand, and other Thai leaders. She also recounts an early proposal for Sino-American rapprochement from President Johnson, relayed to China for her father, and the painful consequences it entailed for her during the Cultural Revolution.
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Format: Paperback
This account of how two young children of a Thai politician were secretly sent to live in China under the care of the Chinese government provides fascinating insights into Thai politics and international relations that are still very much how things work today. It also provides a first hand account of the cultural revolution from a unique perspective.
The story was heart breaking at times, as two lonely children came to terms with the sacrifice their familiy was forcing them to make for their country.
A fascinating and easy to read book (once you have managed to straighten out who all the Thai and Chinese names belong to).
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By Ms. Nicola Lenihan on May 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book showed a new side of communism to me.

If you have read books about the life of Mao and his wife, then this is a must read. It is really well written and just shows another side of the story.
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