TO THE EDGE OF THE SKY: A Story of Love, Betrayal, Suffering and the Strength of Human Courage

Anhua Gao, Author . Overlook $27.95 (398p) ISBN 978-1-58567-362-9

Gao and her country, the People's Republic of China, start out on equal ground, both coming into existence in 1949. But as Gao grows into a strong and thoughtful adult, her beloved country disintegrates before her eyes. Schooled in Communist propaganda since infancy, her ideas are smashed by the hypocrisy she sees all around her. Starvation, cannibalism, spousal abuse, unjust imprisonment, humiliation and the denial of anything good or enjoyable are among the countless atrocities she and her comrades endure. Her parents, revered Communist officials who are both dead by the time she is 11, are deemed revolutionary martyrs—an accolade that eventually saves Gao's life but awards her only slight privilege throughout treacherous years of suspicion and political unrest. Though her parents' status and good connections occasionally prove useful, Gao is hardly spared from the harsh living conditions and feral survivalism that defined the Cultural Revolution. Through her many ordeals, Gao never loses her sense of compassion for others, even remarking, "We were constantly told that two-thirds of the world was under a capitalist regime and that the people were living in an abyss of suffering as if they were in 'deep water and scorching fire'.... I began to feel so sorry for the rest of the world. If this was 'heaven' in China, how bad was the 'hell' they had to put up with?" Painful to read but difficult to put down, the book explains China's recent history through fascinating and harrowing personal accounts. 45 b&w photos, map. Agent, Andrew Lownie. (Mar. 24)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-14-028724-0
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