by Kit Darling

In April we discussed Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. This is the story of 3 generations of Chinese women, and ranges from Manchuria during the Sino-Japanese war to Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The grandmother, a beautiful young girl,  has bound feet a traditional practice. She is essentially sold by her father to be a concubine to a General in the Kuomintang Army. After his death she eventually finds love and marries a doctor of traditional medicine. Her daughter becomes a spy for the Communists and eventually joins Mao’s Long March. She and her husband become government officials but fall into disgrace during the Cultural Revolution. The granddaughter grows up revering Mao and suffers through the various edicts of the Gang of Four, including schools with no text books except Mao’s Little Red Book and stints in rural areas to “learn from the peasants”. She eventually gets a university education and ultimately realizes that Mao was the force behind the Cultural Revolution.  A fascinating glimpse into eras of history about which we knew very little. Some members disliked being “emotionally manipulated”. Others felt it gave insight into the impact of that period of China’s history on women and the family. Some drew parallels with the current US political climate – the cult of personality; the disdain for education and professionalism; Anti-intellectualism. A thought provoking read. Recommended

And here are some recommended reads from our members, all of which are available from the Hamilton Public Library. Visit the Bookmobile at Bennetto Recreation Centre on Tuesday (2:30 to 4:30) and Thursday (6:00 to 8:00).

Believer by David Axelrod

In the book he relates his love of politics from a very early age through to the end of his career 40 years later. He spends his early career as a journalist covering politics before moving into organizing election campaigns for politicians at every level particularly in Chicago where he makes his home. Eventually in 1992 he meets Barack Obama and the book details their personal and professional relationship ultimately leading to the run for president in 2008. He also covers his time in the White House and the subsequent run  in 2012. I thoroughly enjoyed this inside account of these events. Kathy

Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at .