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Customer Review

1,614 of 1,822 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. This book is going to be in history., January 22, 2013
This review is from: Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds (Hardcover)
(Some people may get confused about what happened to my review. Here is the story: My oringinal most popular 1 star review was deleted by Amazon on the evening of Feb 16. I then posted this new 5 star review on the morning of Feb 18, which was voted to be The most helpful favorable review within hours. Then on the afternoon of Feb 21, Amazon restored my original 1-star review. But I like my new 5 star rating review better now, so I'll keep it as it is. I'll continue to put my update of the events on top and let the original Feb 18 5-star review stay at the bottom. References for this review and my original 1-star review are saved at
April 21
I just remembered another fact to prove that Ping Fu lied about major events in her life.

When the college entrance exam resumed in 1977 after the Cultural Revolution, only those who graduated from high school were allowed to take the exams except those who should graduate between 1966-1968, because there was no school in those three years.

Ping Fu was born in 1958, should graduate high school around 1976. She took the College Entrance Exam and entered university in 1978. Had she not gone to school for 10 years as she claimed, she wouldn't be allowed to take the College Entrance Exam and to go to the university.

Feb 22 (2)
As I said in this review, I gave 5 stars for Ping Fu's audacity to lie, to take advantage and to abuse the trust of innocent unsuspecting journalists.

On Feb 20, DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW wrote two articles about Ping Fu and her memoire in International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. I guess DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW is a very nice and trusting person. With this much of evidence against Fu, Ms. TATLOW still gave Ping Fu the benefit of doubt, took her words as something trustworthy and did not double check. How did Ping Fu pay her back? Ping Fu insulted Ms. Tatlow's intelligence right back with more lies, which in turn insulted her's readers' intelligence and made DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW look like a very incompetent journalist.
(continued in comment section in page 80)

Feb 22(1)
The coauthor of this book, Meimei Fox, wrote a good piece 3 days ago on her blog titled: Show Up, Speak Up, Stand Up: A 2013 Rhodes Scholar's Formula for Changing the World.

Yes, Ms. Fox, you are right! We Chinese immigrants spoke up and stood up this time. Together, we changed the course for this book and many other things:)
(revised on Feb 19)
A must read. This book is going to be in history, to outshine over all of those infamous memoirs like "inspirational" A Million Little Pieces or the Holocaust Hoax memoir Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years

My first review of this book was written on Jan 22 after I heard of it from NPR, the very first negative 1 star review for this book. That review started with only 4 lines, then expended into 30 pages word document with about 70 pages comments followed it, probably has become the longest book review in amazon's history. It turned into a drama and history records for this battle for the truth, recorded what happened between Jan 22 and Feb 15 (see ref 4, the major timeline for this controversy is in ref 8), with 1400+ out of 1500+ people found my review helpful. Eventually it was killed by Amazon on Feb 16, due to its "visually distractiveness" and violation of Amazon's guidelines. So I have to start all over again from ground zero. Let's see what is going to happen to this one.

In my first review, I gave it 1 star rating without much thinking, purely based on the untruthfulness of the book for a memoir. After past 4 weeks battle for the truth, I realize that my initial rating was wrong, very wrong. I should give it 5 star. Even the 5 star rating is too low for it.

1. This book has 274 pages. The very first sentence in the very first page is a lie, a big lie (proven, see reference 1-4). Page 269 is the last page which has something to do with her experiences in China. It is a lie too. Between page 1-page 269, almost everything related to China are lies. Not small, slip of memory or forgivable lies. They are all disgusting, outrageous and intentional lies. Many are proven (reference 1-4). For a memoir making up with this kind of pure lies to such extend, I have to give it 5 stars. Not for the memoir itself, but for two authors' audacity to lie.

2. The title of the book, Bend, Not break was said to represent some Chinese wisdom. The truth is, in Chinese language, we have an idiom NING ZHE BU WAN which means rather to break or be broken than to bend. We respect those who stand for their beliefs, principles, values and dignities to the degree that they prefer to be broken rather than bend. That is why the first reaction when many of us heard the book title was like, huh? She used that idiom wrong, should be the opposite. During the Cultural Revolution, many people committed suicide exactly because they didn't want to live a life that they couldn't be true to themselves. They choose the death instead of bending. This book and its title is an insult to those people.

A professor of Chinese history and philosophy from a US university vouched that "her story is a true reflection of what happened to some people in China during the Cultural Revolution". No, nothing in the book reflects the history of China, Chinese culture and Chinese people, nothing reflects the Cultural Revolution, nor the modern China.

For a book which bended Chinese history, culture and people to such extend, at the same time was valued by some people as representation of that, it deserves a 5 star rating, not the book, but the bending.

3. The book's scheme is riches to rags, then to riches again. It is an extremely good story line, two extreme riches with one extreme rags in between. It's very clever marketing scheme. This scheme alone is worth 5 stars.

From 11 days of age until 8 years old, she was raised by her extremely rich aunt and uncle in Shanghai. The truth is, she never lived with any rich people anywhere at all. The picture of the lonely house in the book that she lived in wasn't located in Shanghai (maybe in some foreign countries). Her family wasn't rich at all. Those childhood pictures(supposed to be taken when she lived in Shanghai with her rich aunt) she provided were taken in commercial photo studios. They probably didn't even own a camera to take pictures of her as a baby or as a little kid. So this fairy tale childhood is just her fantasies. "Rich" people in Shanghai back then didn't live that kind of life. Nothing in that part of her story reflected real Shanghai or China in that period of time. (see ref 3, 4)

The rag life part is also total fabrications. (many of the details have been proven to be lies, ref 2, 3, 4). The only possible truth is that she indeed lived in a university student dorm type of housing with her family. Universities in China provided housing for most of its faculty and staffs. Student dorm type of housing usually provided for staffs or junior faculties. Please remember, 40 years ago, China was very poor. Those student dorms were very similar to many old student dorms in the US structurally, but in a lot worse condition. Even that kind of housing was considered modern and luxury back then compare to the living condition of ordinary factory workers or rural peasants. The life she described there is total fabrication or distortion of the facts (ref 2-4).

Among her rags life story in China, what angered and disgusted me the most is her gang rape story. For the Confucius culture and traditions that valued a woman's virginity and purity as the highest virtue in the past, many rape victims had to commit suicide. But she dared to insult those victims with making up this kind of lies.

First, she gave two totally different versions of the gang rape story, one in the book, another during her numerous book promotion to the media. None of them could be true (ref 3,4). In additional to what I and xgz wrote in reference 3 and 4, just using google earth to take a look at that university campus (ref 6), one can easily see how far the cannel is from the campus and how deep the water is, how impossible for her in the dorm to hear other kids' shouting at the cannel bank, flied down the stairs, walked into the water and dragged her sister up.

Second, when it was pointed out by me that this is a lie (she followed the thread of my first review as early as Jan 24, and responded to my review and other people's comments 3 to 4 times), she still dared to repeat this lie in hope that this was very personal experience that no one can disprove that.

4. In the book and her many promotion interviews, she claim that she came to this country penniless, worked as babysitter waitress etc. to make a living and to pay for her schooling. But anybody familiar with international student fair would know that for a foreign student to be able to get the visa to enter the US, he/she has to have financial statement to prove that he/she have enough money for tuition, room and board. Claiming to be penniless now means she falsified those financial documents and broke the law.

For a person at her position and status (she is a member of President Obama's National Advisory Council), dared to publicize her past law breaking endeavor, I have to give her 5 stars for this.

5. Her lies aren't something difficult for people to find out. Anyone with a shred of knowledge about China between 1960 to 1984 could immediately tell her stories are fabrications. Anybody done some critical thinking and examination of her stories also can easily tell that things don't add up in her stories. Her lies are insult to human intelligence.

So the simplicity, naiveté and stupidity of her lies deserve a 5 star rating.

6. Facing mountain of evidence that she lied, some people still can find inspiration in her book, or defended her lies at all costs, there must be some mystery ingredients in the book that I couldn't figure out. I think those mystery ingredients deserve 5 stars.

7. For a newly published the book, the promotion and publicity exceeded the realm of my knowledge and experiences. That deserves a 5 star.

8. During author's numerous promotion TV, radio and newspaper interviews, she not only repeated those lies in the book, but dare to give many inconsistent or totally different versions of the stories, taking advantage and abusing the trust of innocent unsuspecting journalists. Even on her Jan 30 PBS interview when the controversy had already erupted, she still made up stories like raised chicken in her university dorm. Anybody ever lived in a university dorm in China or in the US would know how impossible to do that in that kind of setting, especially for an eight years old kid. I have to give this kind of boldness and abusing of innocent people's trust a 5star rating.

9. The smearing at the critics by the media is unseen of, exceeded my wildest imagination and ability to understand. We were labeled as "Chinese nationalist", "shills" of the Chinese government, "paid bloggers", internet "bullies", etc. without a shred of evidence. We were accused by Sir Harold Evans of the Daily Beast of having "two user names--20, a hundred--may conceal a single identity", while in fact that each user id has to be Amazon's customers and bought something from amazon before to be able to write reviews(see Amazon's guidelines for creating a review). This kind of attacks on book critics probably has never happened in human history, deserves millions stars (ref 7).

I highly recommend this book. For those who desperately need to find inspiration, they should buy the book for themselves. Others can just borrow it from the local libraries, or walk into a Barnes and Noble bookstore to take a look. But don't expect to find this highly promoted book in B&N's new book promotion area or biography area, it is in the business profile area together with those paperback books now.
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Showing 1-10 of 980 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 22, 2013 3:03:07 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 29, 2013 9:28:35 PM PST]

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 5:53:16 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 6:37:46 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 6:38:29 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 6:57:17 PM PST
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Posted on Jan 22, 2013 8:25:54 PM PST
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Posted on Jan 23, 2013 2:05:30 PM PST
Thank you for your review. I have not read the book -- I do plan to -- but heard it mentioned on NPR and I have to say, I wondered about some of the same things you mention. Of course I am sure that different people had different experiences, but I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts. One thing I think we've all learned about reading memoirs -- take them with at least a grain of salt (yes, James Frey and Greg Mortenson, I mean you).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2013 2:06:03 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2013 2:06:36 PM PST
Hmm. Kate, do you have a mirror?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2013 3:13:46 PM PST
Fei & Tony says:
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Posted on Jan 24, 2013 12:57:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 30, 2013 2:13:11 AM PST
Ping Fu says:
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