Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reading. Actual Books.

I finished Wild Swans earlier this week. It's only the second book I've finished this year. But, before all you 'I-read-two-books-every-three-minutes' types guffaw at me, you need to know a few things:

First. This book was 508 pages long. Five hundred eight. If you combine that with the other book I have read this year, that being the Bible, then I have read over 1500 pages. If you ask me, that actually counts as, like, six books. And it isn't even May yet. However, being the stickler that I am for accuracy, I cannot claim that I am on track to beat last year's record of twelve books (not that this is a goal, but I use it for comparison.) I guess I can say I FEEL like I have read six books. And, had I chosen books of a more average length, perhaps I would have actually read six books by now. I have, however, only read two books this year.

Second. I finished reading this book (which, did I mention, was 508 pages long?) in 18 days.

Some friekish reading demon has possessed my brain.

That being said, I will now tell you that I really enjoyed Wild Swans. It was written by Jung Chang and chronicles the life of her grandmother, her mother, and herself growing up in China. Her grandmother was a concubine. Her mother joined the Communist party just before the retreat of the Kuomingtang, and Mao's deification. Her father would eventually become a high ranking members of the Communist party. After accusing Mao of breaking with Communist doctrine, he was disgraced, persecuted, and sent to detention for several years. Ms. Chang grew up through Mao's indoctrination of China, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution.

I won't get into a ton more detail than that. When it comes to the history of China, I am an ignoramus. But I am learning. And this book taught me a lot.

I think what I took away from this book more than anything was a clearer picture of "how anyone could do that." By this, I mean that question that we ask when we hear of people doing hateful, murderous things to other people. "How could anyone do that?"

It was happening all over China. Torture, murder, theft, beatings. All carried out by anyone who felt the need. All of it sanctioned by Mao Zedong. And, despite the fact that she hated what was happening, the author's feelings toward Mao were ones of admiration, reverence, and even gratefulness.

That's indoctrination folks.

I still don't "understand" indoctrination but, having read this book, and the description of Mao's tactics, I think I can say that I understand how it happens, how it spreads, and how it feeds off of itself until it chokes an entire country.

The book itself was repetitive at times, and sometimes awkwardly worded. It was difficult to keep track of all the people, but an index (and a timeline) are included in the back of the book to help with this. Overall, I enjoyed the book (which goes with out saying right... see points above.) I learned a great deal and it left me wanting to learn more about the history of China.

The other benefit to reading this LONG book was that when I picked up my next book - a mere 241 pages, and smaller ones at that - I gasped and thought, I could have this done in just a few days!




Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

VERY impressive. You know, if you want to pad out your stats, you could count each book of the Bible, or at least count the OT and the NT as two separate volumes....What's your next book?

Mon Apr 30, 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Addie said...

Oooo, I like Luisa's way of thinking. Technially you've read 67 books this year! Good for you! :D

Mon Apr 30, 11:33:00 AM  

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