Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China
A major new biography from the internationally bestselling author of Wild Swans, Mao and Empress Dowager Cixi: a gripping story of sisterhood, revolution and betrayal, and three women who helped shape the course of modern Chinese history.
Meet the three women who helped shape the course of modern Chinese history. This major new biography from the internationally bestselling author of Wild Swans is a gripping story of sisterhood, revolution, betrayal.
They were the most famous sisters in China. As the country battled seismic transformations these three women left an indelible mark on history.
Red Sister rose to be Mao’s vice-chair.
Little Sister became first lady of pre-Communist Nationalist China.
Big Sister made herself one of country’s richest women.
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister takes us on a sweeping journey from exiles’ quarters in Japan and Berlin to secret meeting rooms in Moscow, and from the compounds of the Communist elite in Beijing to the corridors of power in democratic Taiwan. By turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape twentieth-century China.
“Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a monumental work, worthy both of Jung Chang’s Mao and of the great, rambling, heterogeneous Chinese folk epics of the oral past, such as The Water Margin and The Three Kingdoms. Its three fairy-tale heroines, poised between east and west, spanned three centuries, two continents and a revolution, with consequences that reverberate, perhaps now more than ever, in all our lives to this day.”
Hilary Spurling, Spectator
“Outstanding... As with her previous books, most famously Wild Swans, it is Chang’s sympathetic, storyteller’s eye — her attention to deeply human detail during the most extraordinary circumstances — that makes her work remarkable. Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is another triumph.”
William Moore, Evening Standard
“The Soong sisters were an extraordinary trio… Jung Chang has shown, in books such as Wild Swans, her instinct for a compelling story, and that instinct stands her in good stead here as she weaves her way through the complex history of China from the 1880s to the 1970s… Well worth reading, in particular for the way it shows how powerful women have helped to shape modern China. At a time when, 70 years after Mao’s victory, the country’s political leadership contains almost no prominent women at all, that is a particularly apposite message to hear.”
Rana Mitter, Sunday Times
“Chang is too deft a biographer to tell you how to think. The sisters are sage and foolish, selfless and vain, brave and fearful, loyal and treacherous... It is up to the reader to decide if the Soongs are fairytale princesses or wicked stepsisters... The sisters were divided by politics, united by love. Even as you recoil from their actions, you are moved by their bond. In this lucid, wise, forgiving biography Chang gives a new twist to an old line. Behind every great man... is a Soong sister.”
Laura Freeman, The Times
“One of this autumn's biggest reads, it's an astounding story told with verve and insight.”
“Utterly engrossing… It stars a trio of extraordinary women… Their gripping collective story reads like Wild Swans meets the Mitfords; and the history feels remarkably close to our own times too.”
Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller
“A remarkable story of war, communism and espionage related with nuanced sympathy... The lives of the three Song sisters – the subjects of Jung Chang’s spirited new book – are more than worthy of an operatic plot.”
Julia Lovell, Guardian
“Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister, written in a compulsive style that sweeps the story along, is much the fullest account of their remarkable lives available in English… The sisters make a great story told with considerable sympathy for them... The warts-and-all portrait of “the Father of the Republic” is a welcome corrective to the conventional hagiography.”
Jonathan Fenby, Financial Times
“Gripping... Chang paints a deft portrait… Anyone who has read Jung Chang's marvellous 1991 best-seller Wild Swans will know she is a skilled storyteller, with a masterful eye for telling details. This book, despite its length, fairly zips along, leaving you hungry to know more about China's extraordinary and turbulent history in the past hundred years.”
Constance Craig, Daily Mail
“Urgent and powerful… a fascinating window into 20th-century Chinese history.”
“A riveting and action-packed story where it's hard not to be enthralled by the murky underworld of the Soongs — its numerous twists and turns are saturated with money, travel, history, corruption, treachery, risk, honour, glory, fear, deception, power, and politics.”
J.P. O’Malley, Irish Sunday Independent
“A rollicking ride.”
Vaudine England, Literary Review
“A fascinating tale of the three Soong sisters who played a significant role in the making of 20th-century China…[told] with lacerating honesty.”
Donal O'Donoghue, RTE Guide
“An enjoyable take on China’s turbulent 20th-century history, seen through the revealing perspective of three women at the centre of power”
Andrea Janku, BBC History
“Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, intrigue, bravery, glamour and betrayal, which takes us on a sweeping journey… a group biography that is by turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape twentieth-century China.”
“A story of love, war, intrigue, bravery, glamour and betrayal.”
Asian Art Newspaper, *Books of the Year*
“[Chang’s] breathtaking new new triple biography restores these “tiger-willed” women to their extraordinarily complex humanity… As in her bestselling 1991 memoir Wild Swans, Chang uses a gripping and emotional personal story to draw Western readers into the history of China.”
Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph
Rachel Billington, Tablet, *Books of the Year*