A gripping look at China’s historical turbulence from someone who experienced it firsthand.

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A Professor and CEO True Story

SURVIVING THE TWO WARS

A personal memoir that details the hardship of political tumult in China during the first half of the 20th century.

In 1937, when Cheng (The $240 Million Professor, 2016) was only 3 years old, he and his family were forced to flee their hometown of Nanjing, due to the imminent arrival of Japanese invaders. The Chengs narrowly escaped the fate of those who chose to remain and suffered cruelty at the hands of the Japanese military. They took a boat down the Yangtze River to Chunking to start a new life, but they soon faced a series of heartbreaking trials. Cheng’s sister died from pneumonia, and then his grandmother died as well. When the family moved to a desperately poor farming village in Quay-chow, Cheng’s younger brother died from an illness due to drinking the fetid water. The author himself was nearly killed when a chillingly malicious neighbor lured him into the woods and abandoned him there. Then a colonel in the military orchestrated the theft of the family’s valuable jewels. Eventually, Japanese forces moved dangerously close, so the family fled yet again, this time back to Chunking. Cheng’s father was a soldier who was often deployed with his platoon, so the boy taught himself how to fish to supplement his meager diet. When the war ended, he finally returned to Nanjing with his family, which was now in ruins, but when civil war erupted, they ultimately had to decamp for Shanghai to escape Chinese Communists. This is the first volume in a series of four that will track the author’s life from his infancy in exile to his successful career as a professor and businessman in the United States. But it’s not merely an autobiographical recollection; it’s also an incisive history of 20th-century China as the country was caught in the throes of geopolitical upheaval. Cheng delicately weaves his own story with that of his homeland’s, rendering the plight of a nation in profoundly human terms. He also sensitively and candidly recounts the complexity of his sometimes-tortured relationship with his father: “I loved Baba very much, but I was afraid of him, not just because of how he would punish me for my wrongdoings but because of his quick temper and those piercing eyes that could see right through my own eyes into the very thoughts in my head.” This is an engrossing tale that will whet readers’ appetites for a sequel.

A gripping look at China’s historical turbulence from someone who experienced it firsthand.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5245-3546-9

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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