‘This book will shake the world’

There was a moment in the early 1990s when everybody everywhere seemed to be reading Wild Swans. The biggest grossing non-fiction paperback in publishing history, it sold more than 10m copies worldwide and was translated into 30 languages. It wasn’t just a popular success appealing mainly to women (as is sometimes sniffily assumed), it was also acclaimed by literary heavyweights such as Martin Amis and JG Ballard. Published two years after the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Jung Chang’s family memoir, following the lives of three generations of women through China’s terrible 20th century, arrived at just the right time to satisfy a readership hungry for information about this unknown country. For many in the west, Wild Swans was their first real insight into life under the Chinese Communist party. Now, with her long-awaited second book co-written with her husband, the historian Jon Halliday, Chang aims to expose the true character of the man responsible for so much misery – Chairman Mao. “He was as evil as Hitler or Stalin, and did as much damage to mankind as they did,” Chang says. “And yet the world knows astonishingly little about him.” The result of more than 10 years of research,… Read full this story

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