Somewhat bland and meandering, but in-depth reporting contributes significantly to our knowledge about China’s development.

FACTORY GIRLS

FROM VILLAGE TO CITY IN A CHANGING CHINA

Former Wall Street Journal correspondent Chang penetrates the teeming world of young female migrant workers and finds, rather surprisingly, that it holds a lot more promise than being stuck on the farm.

“There was nothing to do at home” was the recurring explanation the author received from workers who had moved to China’s cities looking for work. Despite low wages, long hours, no health benefits and exploitive bosses, these girls, as young as 16 (they often lied about their ages), braved the danger of the unknown and sought new lives, sometimes with an older relative’s help, sometimes by simply knocking on a factory door. Some 115 million migrant workers have been key to China’s recent economic growth, providing the biggest source of wealth accumulation in rural China; the government no longer hounds these workers, but encourages them. Chang penetrates their world through the stories of two particular workers in the factory town of Dongguan. Min, born in a farming village in Hubei, went to Dongguan with her older sister and swiftly rose from a lowly assembly-line job to white-collar office work because of her nice handwriting. She sent money home and hoped to return there to find a husband. Chunming arrived in Dongguan from Hunan Province when she was 17; she narrowly escaped being pressed into a brothel and by sheer will and determination to better herself gained steady promotions into management and high-paying sales jobs, until in her early 30s she predicted that within three years she would achieve her goals of “financial independence and freedom.” Enduring discrimination, loss of friends and dehumanizing dating rituals, these migrants still relished their independence and heightened status at home. Chang clutters their fascinating narratives with clumsy attempts to incorporate the migrant stories of her own family members, who fled the communist revolution.

Somewhat bland and meandering, but in-depth reporting contributes significantly to our knowledge about China’s development.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-52017-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

Did you like this book?

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more