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on May 23, 2012
I just finished reading `The Little Red Guard' half an hour ago. It's absolutely great.
I was quite taken by the portraits of his father, and mother and grandmother, and each come off as tragic characters in their own way. As I read it, I imagined that the triangle between them has been replayed millions of times through history, yet unique in each case. The humor is nicely restrained and subtle and so very effective. The image, and metaphor, of grandmother's coffin invading the author's families' lives is very powerful, and it made for a terrific opening and then it works well as a recurring theme all the way to the end. Like all the best themes, it is simple and direct and physical and obvious, and funny too. And I found myself laughing out loud at several places, like when his sister calls to say `Mother is gone' and she actually means she's gone off with yet another man. I will recommend this book broadly, because I think it will appeal to readers anywhere.
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on June 5, 2013
I'm a retired history and geography teacher. I really appreciated the opportunity to share Huang's growing up years. This book brought home the tremendous stress caused in families during the Cultural Revolution.
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on December 2, 2013
A very interesting true first-person account of growing up during changing times in China - in fact, times change often during this period. Told with insight and enough humor to lighten a sometimes severe tale.
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on May 17, 2012
Great book! But how could I identify with a boy growing up in Communist Red China? It must be because much of "The Little Red Guard" is written through the wonderful childhood perspective of Wenguang Huang. It instantly brought me back to the same period in mid western America where I grew up. I first heard of China when my father would look out our kitchen window and loudly proclaim, "look at that dumb dog trying to dig his way to China". I wondered how could a place be so far you could dig to it. Where was China? What was it like to live there? I was told to finish my supper and be grateful because there were starving children in China. What were children there told? Now I know through the eyes of the Huang family. Father Huang told of American farmers who would spill cow's milk into the river to drive up prices while babies went hungry. The Huangs were struggling with family issues just like mine. My grandmother moved in with us just like his had. The Huangs were the "Everyone Loves Raymond Family" of China. Thoroughly enjoyable tale. You don't need to be a political junkie to enjoy it, you only need the experience of growing up, anywhere.
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on May 5, 2012
I've just finished the book, and I think it is a touching story of family conflicts on several levels during a fascinating period of political and economic turmoil in China. Mr. Huang's straightforward recounting of the political discussions he had with his Father and others was a counterpoint to the clearly emotional impact of the conflict over Grandma's coffin. I have to respect his dear Mother for her perseverance and stamina through the ups and downs. Mr. Huang's own political transformation was woven into the last years of his story, and I admire his courage in revealing his thoughts about the conflicts that transformation created in his relationships with family and friends. China has gone through amazing and often difficult changes since the founding of the Peoples Republic. All of us are fortunate to have writers like Mr. Huang who provide views on how the changes affect the lives of the average citizen. My wife and I are particularly honored to have Mr. Huang as a friend.
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on May 28, 2012
This is a great book. It offers so many insights into tensions faced by ordinary Chinese people during Chairman Mao's time and after he died, and it is brilliantly framed in the context of Wen's family story. It's a good read, too -- entertaining and well as informative. While on his book tour this year, Wen Huang took a small detour to give the commencement address at the Univerity of Illinois Springfield, where he earned his master's degree. That is worth reading, too, on the university's web site. I highly recommend this book for people who want to learn about what ordinary life was like in China in the 1970s and 1980s--written by somebody who understands and explains the censorship of one government and the freedom of expression available in the West. Brilliant.
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on June 27, 2013
I found the description of the political events in China, and the accounts of day-to-day life interesting, although I confess that I got quite impatient and annoyed with the constant surfacing of superstition as a controlling influence in peoples' personal choices and actions. But I guess that must be accurate as a account of the way things were (are still are) in Chinese culture.
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on August 9, 2012
I really enjoyed reading this author's family history in a terrible time of having to live in China. The sacrifices this whole family made shows how strong a family bond can be. I was in China during the early 80's when the Chinese officals made China open to the western world. The author brought me back to that time and how China has changed in just 30 years. I would love to meet the author to tell him how much I enjoyed reading his book.
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on June 3, 2012
I am from Berlin, Germany and bought the book from Amazon US because I am interested in Chinese culture. It was easy to read and I was soon literally sucked into the story. Surprisingly I discovered a lot of similarities to my own childhood. I too had a close relationship to my grandmother who was living in the same household with my family. Family affairs have much in common all over the world and have their cultural specialities at the same time. Through this book I generously learnt a lot about the Chinese mentality.
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on June 3, 2012
The struggles of this family are universal and that's what makes this book so interesting. Torn between a state that tells you where and how you can be buried and traditions that also tell you where and how to be buried set the stage for this autobiography. The "push and pull" between tradition and government are reflected in the tensions in the household. Grandma wants tradition (including a coffin, not sanctioned by the then government rules) but to survive the family has to kow-tow to communist rule. The push of the state enables young Wen to succeed beyond his family's wildest dreams but ties with the past keep pulling him back.

This book helps our understanding of historic and contemporay China easier. It is a quick and easy read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
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