The Dragon's Pearl

Sirin Phathanothai, Author, James Peck, With, Sirin, Author
Sirin Phathanothai, Author, James Peck, With, Sirin, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-79546-7
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7432-1798-9
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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. (July)
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