LEGACIES: A Chinese Mosaic by Bette Bao Lord
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LEGACIES: A Chinese Mosaic

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A riveting collection of first-person accounts of life in 20th-century China, as powerful as the author's best-selling novel, Spring Moon (1981). Posted to China as the wife of US Ambassador Winston Lord shortly after the publication of her novel, Lord set to work compiling an oral history of the country by recording the life stories of a wide array of Chinese citizens. Their accounts testify to China's years of turmoil and suffering, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, in a singularly intimate and affecting way. While many reveal years of guilt for having betrayed parents, teachers, and mentors in the Cultural Revolution's political frenzy, others relive their bewilderment and alienation as former doctors, actors, and teachers whose nightmarish fall from a life of patriotic duty included daily beatings by former students, months spent locked in a schoolroom closet, and routine imprisonment without redress. During those years, as one survivor put it, everyone in China got a chance to accuse and be accused. The result was the permanent dismemberment of family structures and the engendering of such profound fear, suspicion, and hypocrisy that little faith remains today, Lord suggests, in governmental authority, individual ethics, or even honest work. Given such a brutal past, the student uprising at Tiananmen Square, which Lord witnessed as a CBS News consultant, appears all the more miraculous. Equally inspiring is her account of the actions of many older citizens--those who blocked tanks and provided the students with food, for instance, despite their well-grounded conviction that disaster could be the protest's only result. In setting the events leading up to the massacre against the heart-rending tales of her own and others' suffering at the hands of their mother country, Lord adds immense depth and resonance to this window into China. A breathtaking journalist achievement, not to be missed.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf