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Soong Dynasty
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on January 11, 2018
This is an excellent book about a part of Chinese history that is sometimes confusing. The author does a great job of digging and uncovering the real events and business connection of the people in the Soong family and their relations. This is an essential book if you want to understand the China of 1900-1960. It certainly explains why a lot of things are the way they are today.

The only criticism I have is that he occasionally gets overly poetic in his descriptions of certain places, people and events. Fortunately, these episodes are few and far between
2 people found this helpful
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on November 21, 2017
I bought the kindle version of this book. I wish that the descrirption had indicated that the kindle version of the book did not contain any of the illustrations that were in the original edition (if the NYT review I read is correct, there should be peraps 20 or 30 pages of illustrations. The price was good, but it is unfortunate htat thte kindle edition descriptions are not terribly clear about what is NOT available in that particular edition. I'm very disappointed, but hesitate to go ahead and buy another version in order to get the illustrations, since none of the descriptions I have seen so far on Amazon indicate either the presence or the absence of illustrations.
2 people found this helpful
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on April 28, 2017
This is a very long and detailed history of China from about 1880 to the 1960‘s. It gives a full biography of Charlie Soong, the founder of a powerful family which included his son-in-law Chiang Kai-Shek.

This book details Chiang's cruelty. When his sister-in-law begged for the life of a friend and political associate, he let her plead for an hour before telling her that the man had already been put to death. Some of Chiang's prisoners were garrotted by an executioner who was skilled at prolonging death for half an hour.

The American public was not allowed to know what kind of monster they were supporting with money and arms. The publisher Henry Luce, for instance, dedicated his magazine to lavish and incessant praise of Chiang and his wife.

Mme. Chiang's ambition had no limits. She was a monstrous woman who did not deserve to live as long as she did. She died in the Waldorf-Astoria where she occupied several floors.

A truly sickening history, when Japan occupied much of China during the thirties and Chiang and his wife battled the Chinese communists instead of the foreign invaders of their country.

History is told in a smooth and readable fashion by this author.
5 people found this helpful
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on November 17, 2007
I am too young to remember the hegira of the Kuomintang, but I've heard the story in one form or another all my life. I've met people on both sides who have vastly different views of the events and personalities of the time. One thing that is clear, though, and that is that Stillwell hated Chiang, which is expained in lucid detail in Tuchman's Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45. Seagrave takes the same view, namely that Chiang was a gangster who got to the top at a time when China was in chaos.

Chiang's hagiography, as touted by the Mandarins in Taiwan is an example of the amazing curative powers of propaganda. (That is why you should turn off CNN if you want to be able to think.)

This book is not just about Chiang, but about the Soong's, the family he married into. The story of Madame Chiang growing up as a young girl in Georgia, and learning to speak English with a southern accent is fascinating. The Soongs were bicultural and bilingual. They were also fantastically wealthy, and that combination helped them find their way to the top in the USA. Mrs. Chiang had unprecedented access to FDR during the time that the US was helping the Chinese fight Japan. The Chiangs used that access to extort huge sums of money from the Americans and they used it to enrich themselves while letting Mao and Cho carry the war.

Madame Chiang's sister was married to Dr. Sun Yat Sen, about whom Seagrave has little good to say, but who has been considered the father of the republican revolution in China. Whether he was or not is a question that Seagrave discusses at length in the book.

Another great book about Chinese history from a man who has spent much of his life in Asia. A great read.
7 people found this helpful
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on March 22, 2018
This book starts slow, with the childhood and youth of Charlie Soong, but it became like a thriller. Madre me want to know more.
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on June 11, 2016
Great book. Well done. must read.
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on January 27, 2003
...about the powerful Soong family. It's so easy to fall under the spell of this seemingly untouchable family who appeared to have it all--wealth, power, education, etc.--but we are reminded of the shady dealings and deeds that catapulted the family to its near-invincible status and its iconic place in world history.

If this book sparks your interest, definitely try out an even better read--George Kerr's Formosa Betrayed. Kerr's book focuses on the early history of the Taiwan-China conflict: the turnover from Japanese Imperial rule, the subsequent and tumultuous Nationalist/KMT government, the 2-28 Incident and March Massacre, and the U.S.'s part throughout it all. Kerr's book is all-encompassing, but as regards the Soongs, it reminds you that beneath the glamour and wealth of people like the Soongs was the unscrupulous trading that bankrupted millions while feeding personal family fortunes. (Specifically look for allusions to T.V. Soong's influence on the then-impending economic collapse of Taiwan, and you'll never again be dazzled by the Soongs' bright lights and propaganda show.) Read it, not because you dare, but because you CAN.
11 people found this helpful
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on April 28, 2017
I thought it was a ery interesting book and well written and showed both side of the Chinese revolution. It also showed how 3 sisters married very famous men in history.
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on August 28, 2017
So much information about China told while telling the story of the Soongs. A little academic but so interesting.
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on May 21, 2014
If you want to understand anything about the real history of China in the modern era, you must read about the Soongs dynasty.
3 people found this helpful
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