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A Leaf In the Bitter Wind

Nora Marsh

ting-Xing Ye is an amazing woman, presenting an honest and painful view of China before, and during, the turbulent Communism of Chairman Mao.

A Leaf In the Bitter Wind book cover Beginning with her childhood over 35 years earlier, Ye explores her feelings towards her parents and expresses the fears and hopes of growing up. Her examination of her youth is very critical, and Ye is not afraid to present herself in a bad light at times. It is all part of her reconciliation with the past.

This youth does not last long, as Ye is forced to grow up fast, starting with the death of both of her parents by the time she is thirteen, and continuing with the onset of the Cultural Revolution.

The Communism that this revolution brings is devestating to a family with Capitalist roots. We are shown a merciless system without understanding, one which constantly quotes Mao's Little Red Book, and degrades people for the crime of having capitalist ancestors- a plague which she cannot seem to escape.

Through family turmoil and personal hardship, Ye appears to conquer all in the long run. Blood ties are strong here, bringing not only damnation but also hope and support

Ye battles the system and after years of hard labour on a prison farm she is allowed to attend Beijing University. Around every turn is bureaucracy and the watchful eye of Communism, yet Ye pushes through to land a prized job as a translator at the Foreign Ministry. Ye had used her every moment while working on the prison farm studying English, and years later it pays off.

All this really looks like the beginning of her life as a "normal" citizen, however there are many twists ahead for her, and even when the final page is finished we are left craving to know how she and her family are doing today.

This profound document of oppression and courage is an essential read for anyone who cares at all about freedom.

published by random house
ISBN 0-385-25701-5

Nora Marsh is a writer who fortunately hasn't experienced oppression.

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