Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China

Jung Chang. Knopf, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-451-49350-7
Chang (Wild Swans) seamlessly chronicles the lives and marriages of the Soong sisters in this captivating triple biography. Born to a prominent Shanghai family in the final years of the 19th century, the sisters rose to national prominence in 1915, when Ching-ling (“Red Sister”) married Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China. Meanwhile, Ei-ling (“Big Sister”) went into business with her husband, future finance minister H.H. Kung, starting on a path that would make her one of China’s richest women. But it was May-ling (“Little Sister”) who made the most auspicious match by marrying Nationalist leader Chiang Kei-shek in 1927. According to Chang, May-ling, among other heroic deeds, helped to peacefully resolve the 1936 Xian Incident, when Chiang was detained by two of his generals, thereby saving her husband’s life and preventing a full-fledged civil war from breaking out on the eve of WWII. Political tensions would eventually tear the sisters apart, however, as Ching-ling broke with her family to become vice chairman of Communist China under Mao Zedong. Chang’s artful descriptions track the sisters as they amass riches and influence, outwit opponents, and help to mold modern China and Taiwan. This juicy tale will satisfy readers interested in politics, world affairs, and family dynamics. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/30/2019
Release date: 10/29/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-101-97292-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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